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The BBC's Dione Shury
"He is to mount a legal challenge"
 real 56k

Chris McGimpsey, UUP councillor
"They moved in with about 20 Landrovers"
 real 28k

Northern Ireland Minister, Peter Mandelson
"Overwhelmingly the early release prisoners play a positive role"
 real 28k

UDP spokesman Gary McMichael
"It would be extremely naive to believe that revoking Adair's licence resolves any difficulties"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Loyalist Adair 'linked to drugs and guns'
Johnny Adair
Security forces believe Adair helped organise recent violence
A decision to return loyalist leader Johnny Adair to prison was based on intelligence information connecting him to a catalogue of crimes, the BBC has learned.

Convicted Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) leader Adair was returned to prison on Tuesday on the order of Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson.

The BBC has obtained details of a confidential report linking Adair to paramilitary activity, sectarian violence and a major drugs operation.

It comes after Adair's political allies said he will challenge the decision to return him to prison in the wake of violence on the streets of Belfast.

A dispute between rival paramilitary groups, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Democratic Association/ Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) escalated on Monday when two men were shot dead outside a north Belfast bookmakers.

A man has been arrested and is being questioned about the murders of Jackie Coulter, a senior UDA member, and Bobby Mahood.

According to BBC sources, Mr Mandelson was given "high-grade" intelligence reports detailing Adair's activities since he was released from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement last September.

Peter Mandelson: Suspended loyalist's licence
Peter Mandelson: Given intelligence reports

The assessment details his links with the splinter paramilitary group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, and his alleged involvement in the swapping of guns.

He is linked to several paramillitary shows-of-strength on the Protestant Shankill Road, in west Belfast, and to vigilante patrols in the same area.

The assessment also blames the Shankill loyalist for stirring up sectarian tensions in interface areas of north and west Belfast and of encouraging attacks.

Adair is said to have organised an armed display by the UFF which took place at a march on the Shankill Road on Saturday.

It also links him to a drugs empire involving vast amounts of money.

BBC NI's chief security correspondent Brian Rowan said: "It's the combination of this intelligence information which persuaded Peter Mandelson to act and issue the back to jail order."

The suspension of Adair's licence followed a meeting between Mr Mandelson and key security advisors in the province.

Although Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan was on leave, Mr Mandelson spoke to him by telephone before acting.

Mr Mandelson has made clear that Adair will not be released in the immediate or early future.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Democratic Party, which has close links with the UDA/UFF, has said it is considering applying for a judicial review of the decision to re-imprison Adair.

Who are the UDA/UFF?
The Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters make up the largest loyalist paramilitary group in NI. It called a ceasefire in 1994, but recently threatened to break it by shooting Catholics. It is linked politically to the Ulster Democratic Party.
Lawyers met Adair in Maghaberry prison near Lisburn in County Antrim, on Wednesday afternoon.

Adair was convicted of directing terrorism and served five years of a 16-year sentence before his early release from the Maze Prison.

If he does not apply for a judicial review, Adair could instead apply to the the Sentence Review Commission to be released.

If he remains in jail after going before the commission, his estimated release date would be May 2002.

Earlier, Mr Mandelson said he hoped Adair's arrest would calm tensions between feuding loyalist paramilitaries but there are still fears the feud could escalate.

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See also:

23 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist Adair to challenge arrest
22 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Night of uneasy calm in Belfast
21 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Troops back on Belfast streets
21 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Man killed in 'loyalist feud' shooting
22 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
In pictures: Belfast's tense streets
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