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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 19:51 GMT
Loyalist group shuns Adair
A split in Northern Ireland's largest paramilitary group is deepening as it moved to distance itself from the jailed loyalist leader Johnny Adair.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Ulster Defence Association in the Shankill area of Belfast said it no longer recognised the leaders of Adair's so-called "C" Company.

Adair and his associate John White were expelled from the UDA leadership last September causing a split in the organisation.

Johnny Adair, Shankill loyalist
The feud erupted when Johnny Adair was expelled from the UDA last year

The tensions caused by the split have erupted into a bloody feud which has, so far, been linked to the deaths of four men.

The latest move follows a meeting in the Shankill on Monday night which was called after the weekend killing of south east Antrim UDA leader John Gregg.

The UDA statement said: "The officers and volunteers of A, B and D Companies, west Belfast UDA, after a membership debate have voted not to recognise the current leadership of C Company in west Belfast.

"The decision does not reflect upon the rank and file members of C Company, who have been the backbone of the brigade over the past 30 years."

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) also issued a statement, distancing itself from Adair and the UDA in the lower Shankill.

It spoke of the unnecessary deaths of loyalists and made clear it would not involve itself in the continuing feud.

The organisation told Adair he could not use the LVF to threaten others within the UDA.

Two men arrested in connection with the murder of John Gregg and another UDA member have been released without charge.

On Monday, PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde called for the public to help the police in catching those behind the feud murders.

He appealed for paramilitaries to allow communities to live in peace.

Gregg was shot dead along with Robert Carson when the taxi they were travelling in was ambushed in Belfast on Saturday night.

John Gregg: Prominent member of the Ulster Defence Association
John Gregg: Shot dead when his taxi was ambushed
Gregg, 45, from Rathcoole on the outskirts of north Belfast, died at the scene of the attack in the city's docks area.

Robert Carson, 33, who was also a member of the UDA, died later in hospital.

The driver of the taxi remains seriously ill in hospital.

Two other passengers, including Gregg's 18-year-old son Stuart, were in the car but escaped uninjured.

Supporters of the expelled UDA leader Johnny Adair are being blamed for the attack.

Senior loyalist sources said that hours before the attack, members of the organisation in the Shankill withdrew an offer to meet other leaders in the organisation to try to end the feud.

The sources also alleged Adair had a role in that decision.

Target

Gregg was jailed for 18 years for shooting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in 1984.

Adair was returned to prison last month when Secretary of State Paul Murphy revoked his early release licence for his involvement in "a litany of terrorist crimes".

Gregg, who was involved in the decision to expel Adair from the UDA was the target of two attacks last month when two pipe bombs were left at his home in Rathcoole in the outskirts of north Belfast.

PSNI Chief Constable Orde said security in loyalist areas had been increased.

"I am convinced in the last week that we have stopped other people from being killed. I know that as a fact."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"The effect is a tighter squeeze on Adair, White and C company"
See also:

04 Feb 03 | N Ireland
02 Feb 03 | N Ireland
08 Dec 02 | N Ireland
17 Jan 03 | N Ireland
20 Dec 02 | N Ireland
26 Sep 02 | N Ireland
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