Gina Adair petitions Downing Street
BY FERN LANE AND STEPHEN McALAOISE
Johnny Adair's wife Gina was outside Downing Street on Friday 8 September protesting at the return to prison of her husband. As she handed in two letters for Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding the release of UDA man Adair, she was accompanied by convicted loyalist gun-runner Frank Portinari as well as a group of about 20 supporters, comprising the UDA's London branch and members of Combat 18, the British neo-nazi group, which has close links to the UDA. Some had posters of Adair bearing the legend ``VICTIMISATION. Free Johnny Adair Now - His only crime is Loyalism.''
Supporting Adair via the news media was one Thomas Potts, billed as the ``Loyalist Protest Leader''. In an interview with Sky News, Potts said that ``Johnny Adair is 100% behind the Good Friday Agreement and surely he should be released to continue the work that he has started''.
Also identified amongst the group outside Downing Street was National Front member and another loyalist gun-runner Terry Blackman, wearing a similar T-shirt to that sported by UDA members who gathered in Portadown during the Drumcree crisis.
Adair has a history of personal involvement with fascist groups; he was an active member of the National Front in the early 1980s, as were many of his closest cohorts in the UDA's Shankill `C' Company, including Sam McCrory.
Adair was rearrested near his home on the Shankill Road on 23 August and sent to Maghaberry jail on the orders of Peter Mandelson. The Secretary of State had decided that in orchestrating the ongoing feud between the UDA and the UVF and the consequent attacks on homes of those associated with the UVF, Adair was in breach of the terms of his licence. That he was also clearly running out of the control of British security forces and attacking his `own side' was also likely to have been a principle factor in his re-arrest. His involvement in the UDA's long-running campaign of sectarian violence against nationalists, particularly in the north and west of Belfast, had gone entirely unpunished.
The loyalist feud has led to three deaths and several injuries up until now, but the fear amongst nationalists is that these attacks will become more frequent and even more violent as the UDA and UVF attempt to resolve their differences as they have in the past - by killing Catholics.
On Tuesday, Gina Adair and a gang of UDA supporters briefly disrupted the first meeting back of the Assembly at Stormont when they shouted abuse at PUP members from the public gallery.