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Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK


'Republicans behind Adair shooting'

Johnny Adair is serving a 16-year prison sentence at the Maze

A unionist councillor has blamed republicans for a gun attack on loyalist paramilitary leader Johnny Adair at a Belfast pop concert.

Adair was on home leave from prison when he says he received a graze on the head by a bullet at the UB40 concert in Botanic Gardens on Friday.

The Search for Peace
Frank McCoubrey, an Ulster Democratic Party councillor for Shankill, said he had no doubt that republicans were involved.

Mr McCoubrey said: "The UDP will be asking for an inquiry as soon as possible."

Police appeal

Police have renewed their appeal for information and want to talk to anyone who took photo or video footage at the concert or noticed anything suspicious.

They also want to talk to the driver of a white taxi who may have taken the injured man from the Botanic Avenue gates to north Belfast.

Adair, leader of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, was the first person in Northern Ireland to be jailed for directing terrorism.

He received a 16-year sentence but will be freed from the Maze Prison early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

[ image: Johnny hiding following assassination attempt]
Johnny hiding following assassination attempt
Witnesses said Adair, who attended the concert with his wife, Gina, was chased and beaten by a dozen men.

He is due back in prison on Sunday.

If he had been killed or seriously injured the four-year-old Ulster Defence Association ceasefire might have been thrown in jeopardy.

During the concert, Adair was wearing a hat over his ears to conceal his identity at the concert, and said while he did not see the actual attack, he saw the flash from the gun and felt the pain.

The UFF leader said he believed the motive for the attack was "sectarian".

Death threats last year

"I was watching the band UB40 performing live with my wife when someone came up behind me and shot me in the head," he said.

"I turned to run but I was set up from within the crowd who assaulted myself and my wife several times. We ran to safety outside the Botanic Gardens where we stopped a taxi and jumped into it which took me to the (loyalist) Shankill Road."

Death threats made against Adair last June in the Maze were taken seriously by the Prison Service.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office confirmed at the time that the RUC visited Adair in the Maze "in response to inquiries".

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