Adair has broken no law, say supporters

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The Independent Online

Gina Adair went to see her husband in his prison cell yesterday, angry at the unfairness of it all. The authorities were always picking on her Johnny.

Gina Adair went to see her husband in his prison cell yesterday, angry at the unfairness of it all. The authorities were always picking on her Johnny.

"He hasn't done anything. I mean they haven't got him on film pulling triggers. They haven't got him on film doing anything illegal like that," she protested. "So why take him off the street? There's loads of people out there inciting violence. Why just John, like? Because of who he is, that's why."

Mr Adair's friends and supporters were also queuing up to praise and defend him saying he was a man much misunderstood. John White, of the Ulster Democratic Party, declared: "Johnny Adair lives a charismatic life, verging on flamboyancy. I know his image might not be that good, but he has done nothing illegal."

On the streets of Belfast, however, very few people condemned Peter Mandelson for ordering the re-arrest of the man who was freed early from a 16-year sentence for directing terrorism under the Good Friday Agreement.

A malignant shadow appears to have lifted over the Shankill yesterday morning. The staunchly loyalist area, deserted for the past few days because of the shootings and killings among loyalist groups, was once again busy, every shop and business open. The only premises still shut were the wrecked offices used by Mr Adair's Ulster Freedom Fighters and offices of the rival Ulster Volunteer Force.

Susan Hoey, out shopping with her four-year-old daughter Caroline was glad to see the security forces. "Thank God we are getting back to normal life," she said. Was the return to normality thanks to Johnny Adair's arrest? Ms Hoey, 29, smiled. "Well you don't exactly see people in mourning, do you? Let's hope things will continue to get better."

Billy Hutchinson, a member of the Stormont Assembly for the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of the UVF, was more pessimistic. He is said to be on the UFF hit list following the two killings on Monday. Standing outside the Rex Bar, shot up by the UFF last week, Mr Hutchinson said: "Of course those of us in the public eye are aware of the risks involved, but a lot of others are also under threat. Removing Johnny Adair will not end this violence.

"The problem is there are others who will step in trying to live up to his reputation, and there will be young people willing to follow them."

Young people are swelling the ranks of the UFF at the moment. Around 45 are believed to have been recruited in the past few weeks, and the youngsters - both boys and girls - were much in evidence at the Adair- organised loyalist parade on the Shankill, during which one young man was called on to the stage and then presented with his colours by the "Commander" Adair.

These young Adair followers, in baseball caps and fresh tattoos, were present in force near the lower Shankill home of their arrested leader yesterday, bemused and angry - refusing to accept that they are in fact a very small minority in idolising the terrorist leader.

Johnny Johnstone, 18, who is unemployed, said: "He was trying to do things around here. Nothing happened without him saying so. He didn't take any crap, and that's the reason he was arrested. Just wait and see what happens next."

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