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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Loyalist leader kicked out by UDA
Johnny Adair on his release from prison this summer
Johnny Adair on his release from prison this summer
Johnny Adair, the leader of one of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association's six brigades, has been disowned by the organisation.

A statement issued by the UDA's five other leaders on Wednesday afternoon said "the present brigadier in west Belfast is no longer recognised as a member of the UDA".

It added Adair was "no longer acceptable in our organisation."

The leadership of the UDA, Northern Ireland's largest loyalist paramilitary group, issued the statement after a meeting held in east Belfast.

Tensions

The leaders of the organisation's north, south and east Belfast and South East Antrim and North Antrim and Londonderry brigades had not invited Adair or his west Belfast brigade members to the meeting.

One UDA leadership source said Adair had recently put the organisation in an "impossible position".

New lower Shankill UDA mural shows Adair's LVF association
New lower Shankill UDA mural shows Adair's LVF association

It followed Adair's fostering of closer links with another paramilitary grouping the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Tension between the UDA and LVF have resulted in the murder of a senior LVF member Stephen Warnock and the wounding of a senior UDA member Jim Gray in Belfast within the past three weeks.

The UDA leadership source highlighted a number of areas where Adair's movements made his position in the organisation untenable.

Adair attended the funeral of the LVF leader Stephen Warnock which was held after the LVF shot and wounded senior east Belfast UDA member Gray in retaliation for the murder.

Adair was also accused of meeting with senior LVF members after a south Belfast UDA meeting in south Belfast last Friday.

And this week Adair's C Company in the lower Shankill Road was behind the erection of a new joint UDA-LVF mural being painted in the area.

The other UDA leaders saw Adair's painting of his colours on the Shankill as evidence that he was siding with that organisation.

Implications

A senior figure in UDA contacted Adair's close associate and former loyalist politician John White to tell him to pass on the message that he is no longer recognised by the other five parts of the organisation.

Reacting to the news, Mr White, a member of the Ulster Political Research Group, which has provided advice to the UDA, said Adair "is not taking this as seriously as people will try to make out".

Adair (right) and John White (left), Andre Shoukir (centre)
Adair (right) and John White (left) recently met Northern Ireland secretary with other loyalists

He added: "The statement is a complete surprise.

"The leadership of the UDA in west Belfast has a strategy for the future. That strategy has been endorsed by the west Belfast leadership and they will continue to adhere to that.

"The leader within west Belfast has the full support of not only the leadership by rank and file membership."

In the Shankill, is will now be up to the other two UDA companies, A and B, how they wish to align themselves.

In the past, such as during UDA C Company's bloody feud with the Ulster Volunteer Force in the summer of 2000, A and B Company have largely kept out of Adair's affairs.

The UDA leadership's decision could have knock-on effects on the UDA's position in the wider Northern Ireland context.

The UDA and LVF ceasefires were declared void by Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid in 2001 because of increasing sectarian violence in Belfast and the LVF murder of a journalist.

However, loyalists, including Adair, recently met Dr Reid. One of the areas discussed was the state of the ceasefires.

Adair, convicted of UDA leadership, has recently been portrayed as pro-peace process by his associates including John White.

However, he has in the past been singled out by security force intelligence as the root of violent upsurges, including that which led to his return to prison in the summer of 2000 after he violated his Good Friday Agreement early release terms.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan reports:
"The UDA will watch to see how other loyalists in the Shankill react"
Adair associate John White
"He is not taking this as seriously as people would try to say"
The BBC's Mark Simpson in Belfast
"The consequences could be very serious indeed"
See also:

23 Sep 02 | N Ireland
09 Jan 01 | N Ireland
17 Sep 02 | N Ireland
13 Sep 02 | N Ireland
17 Sep 02 | N Ireland
24 Dec 01 | N Ireland
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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