19 February 2006

Trust IRA, Mad Dog Adair tells loyalists


Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday February 19, 2006
The Observer

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe former Ulster Defence Association paramilitary leader, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, has made an unprecedented, and at one time utterly unthinkable, call for all loyalists to trust the IRA.

Adair, who spent his terrorist career targeting republicans for assassination, said the unionist community should accept the IRA's statement last July that its 'war' is finished for good.

Speaking in exile from Scotland, he said he believed the IRA was sincere and had decommissioned almost all of its weapons. 'I believe the IRA and their statement last July,' he said. 'Their armed struggle is over. I hate them, but I believe them when they say they are sincere. I believe them when they said they decommissioned their arms... they are sincere about the war being over.'

In an exclusive interview with The Observer, Adair was asked if unionists should share power with Sinn Fein at Stormont. 'Absolutely. Why not? It's time for politics, although our politicians have let the people down. I believe the war is over and the loyalist people should take what the IRA did very seriously. I fought the war against them, there's nobody like myself and C company that had them on the run. But the IRA decommissioned, something they said they would never do. So the Protestant people should accept that,' he replied. On his former UDA comrades, Adair said that he did not think they had the capability to hunt down and kill him.

However, the former head of the Lower Shankill terrorist unit added: 'I'm not afraid of death, after all I've had that many brushes with death. The IRA, the INLA, and latterly so-called loyalists have tried to kill me, so why would I be afraid of death? While I don't underestimate my enemies in the UDA, the real people I worry about are the UVF because they are more professional.'

Adair also claimed that the jailed UDA killer Ken Barrett, whom the BBC programme Panorama named as the gunman who murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989, had nothing to do with it. 'I had nothing to do with that, but I can tell you for definite that Ken Barrett did not shoot Finucane,' he said. 'Barrett is a bastard informer and I hate him, but he did not pull the trigger.'

Pressed on whether he would speak to the forthcoming public inquiry into the Finucane murder, Adair said: 'I would attend only if I was forced to, but I wouldn't have much to say, except that Ken Barrett wasn't the gunman. But, unlike Barrett, I wouldn't inform on anyone.'

Now based in Troon on the western Scottish coast, Adair said he was 'just relaxing' after years in prison and running the most feared loyalist terror group in Northern Ireland. He denounced the present UDA leadership as 'bullies, cowards and thugs' and said he had no regrets that rivals such as UDA assassin John 'Grug' Gregg had lost their lives during the 2002-2003 feud.

Adair's C company faction of the UDA's West Belfast Brigade was routed during a power struggle within the loyalist movement. In February 2003 several dozen of his allies fled the Lower Shankill estate in Belfast after it was 'invaded' by hundreds of UDA men loyal to the organisation's leadership. At the time Adair was in prison after the Secretary of State ruled he had broken the terms of his early release from the Maze, where he was serving 16 years for directing terrorism. 'If I hadn't been in prison at the time, in early 2003, it wouldn't have happened,' he said. 'I'd have rallied the troops.'

Initially Adair settled in Bolton, where his wife, Gina, and their children went after C company was forced out of Belfast. He claimed that while there he was under constant surveillance and harassment from Greater Manchester police.

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