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Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Adair's wife delivers release demand
Gina Adair on the steps of 10 Downing Street
Gina Adair takes the demand to 10 Downing Street
The wife of convicted loyalist paramilitary leader Johnny Adair has handed two letters to Prime Minister Tony Blair in a bid to get him freed from prison.

Gina Adair, accompanied by two male colleagues, walked up to 10 Downing Street and handed in the letters to a policeman.

Ulster Freedom Fighters chief Johnny Adair
Adair: Does not know why he is in prison
At the same time a group of Adair supporters mounted a demonstration opposite the gates to the street's entrance.

The Ulster Freedom Fighters leader had been released from jail early under the Good Friday Agreement but was rearrested after a bitter feud with rival faction the Ulster Volunteer Force exploded into violence.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson acted after two men, one of whom had links to the UFF, were killed.

Senior Ulster Defence Association (cover name for UFF) figure Jackie Coulter and Bobby Mahood were shot dead as they sat in a car in north Belfast.

Following Adair's re-arrest, a third man was shot dead. Sam Rocket was killed by UFF gunmen in front of his girlfriend and baby daughter.

One of the letters delivered by Mrs Adair was from the British Ulster Alliance based in Britain and the second came from the BUA based in Northern Ireland.


He doesn't know why he's been jailed; if he is not in there for any crime he should be released

British Ulster Alliance spokesman Thomas Potts

Mrs Adair refused to comment but Thomas Potts, a spokesman for the BUA in Ulster, said: "Both letters urge Tony Blair to publish any crimes that Johnny Adair has committed or else free him from jail."

"He doesn't know why he's been jailed. And if he is not in there for any crime he should be released."

One of the letters claims republicans released from prison have been involved in public disorder but remained free in contrast to Adair's treatment

Shaven-headed

Mrs Adair flew in to London with around 20 protesters.

Posters calling for Adair's release were taped to railings. The group greeted Mrs Adair with cheers and flag waving after she had handed in the letter.

Asked how long they planned to remain outside Downing Street, one man said: "As long as it takes."

However, it is understood the protesters from Northern Ireland are planning to return on Sunday.

Johnny Adair's wife Gina
Mrs Adair was joined by around 20 supporters outside Downing Street
Three people have been killed in the violence between the UFF and the UVF. The spiral of violence began when shots were fired during a UFF show of strength three weeks ago.

Mr Mandelson has accused the BUA of double standards.

Downing Street declined to comment on Mrs Adair's visit.

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See also:

09 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Party reviews feud talks
01 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: Feud violence must end
27 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Moves towards loyalist feud mediation
26 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Returning Adair to jail 'right decision'
25 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Funeral of murdered loyalist
25 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Tension mounts in Belfast
23 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist Adair 'linked to drugs and guns'
23 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist Adair to challenge arrest
22 Aug 00 | Europe
"Mad Dog"Adair back in jail
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