Allies of 'Mad Dog' Adair flee as feud nears bloody end

Rival loyalist factions drove supporters of Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair from their Belfast stronghold yesterday in a serious blow to the renegade paramilitary commander, who has been at the centre of months of Unionist infighting.

Adair's wife, Gina, and his close associate John White were among a group of up to 50 people who fled overnight from their Lower Shankill power base to Scotland, hours before thousands gathered for the funeral of his bitter rival, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader John Gregg.

Gregg, 45, who was famed within loyalist ranks for shooting and almost killing Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein President, was shot dead after returning to Northern Ireland from a Glasgow Rangers football match at the weekend, following two-and-half years of bloody gangland fighting.

Adair's C Company, which has been at the centre of at least three feuds that have left 14 men dead, was blamed for his death. More than 100 of its members have deserted the former commander of UDA's west Belfast brigade after being warned that they would be shot in retribution for the murders of Gregg and his colleague Robert Carson, 33.

Adair, once Northern Ireland's most feared loyalist, is behind bars after being returned to Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim, last month when his early release licence was revoked for his involvement in terrorist crimes.

His final humiliation came when his wife left their heavily fortified home yesterday after gangs of men attacked houses in the Lower Shankill area. At least one shot was fired and a man was arrested when police arrived and returned fire.

Adair's supporters caught a ferry to the Scottish port of Cainryan at dawn. Officers from Dumfries and Galloway Police questioned four people under the Terrorism Act. They were released and their whereabouts remained unclear.

However, loyalist sources in Belfast claimed Adair's wife and supporters were not safe in Scotland. One said: "The UDA is right across the UK and I cannot see this being resolved, not just yet. There are outstanding issues.

"It wouldn't matter if they went to the Mediterranean. John Gregg is lying in a coffin and that is a disgrace. We know these people have been buying homes in Scotland ... This is what they had been planning for. It is part of the end-game."

There has been speculation in Scotland that Adair had been trying to buy property in Glasgow and Edinburgh, or to force his way into the pub scene in Ayr. Scottish ministers were "closely" monitoring the situation, said a spokesman for the Scottish Executive.

The overnight exodus came just before thousands arrived for the biggest loyalist paramilitary funeral since the burial of the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright in 1997.

The four remaining brigadiers that form the inner council of the UDA ­ formed in 1971 from vigilante groups ­ attended the funeral in north Belfast, along with ex-members of Adair's unit and Michael Stone, who killed three people in an attack on an IRA funeral in west Belfast in 1988. Three volleys of shots were fired over the coffin, which was draped in the UDA-affiliated Ulster Freedom Fighters flag.

Meanwhile, Adair's legacy was being wiped out yesterday as what Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, described as a "mafia feud" appeared to be coming to its end.

Bricks and bottles littered the streets and flags were ripped down in the Lower Shankill area. Paint was smeared over a C Company mural ­ some of it daubed by William "Mo" Courtney, once a close friend of Adair who deserted his camp last week. He said: "The feud is now over."

The latest feuding, which security sources say is linked to control of drugs and racketeering, erupted in September when the UDA expelled Adair.

A neighbour of Adair's said: "Things are still very tense and it remains to be seen what will happen over the next few days. There is a lot of bitterness. It's not over yet."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly claimed the loyalist Shankill area would not benefit from "the replacement of one group of sectarian killers and drug dealers with another".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee