UDA plotted to kill Kennedys

Unionist paramilitaries planned to assassinate members of America's most famous family nearly a decade ago when they attended a miscarriage of justice hearing at a Belfast court.

UDA leader Johnny Adair plotted to kill Courtney Kennedy, the niece of President John F. Kennedy, in a rocket attack in north Belfast as she travelled to the High Court with her husband, Paul Hill.

Details of the plot have emerged following a feud which isolated Adair's gang.

The plan to kill Courtney Kennedy and her husband was developed when Paul Hill returned from America to attend an appeal hearing to clear his name on a murder charge.

Hill, his wife, and other members of her family - including her mother, Ethel, and her brother, Congressman Joe Kennedy - stayed at a retreat house owned by the Catholic Church in North Belfast during the two-week hearing.

Unknown to the Kennedys, Johnny Adair had taken a major interest in the clan's high profile visit to Belfast and planned to stage a spectacular attack primarily against Hill and his wife Courtney.

The plan was to fire a rocket propelled grenade at the limousine containing the couple and other Kennedy family members as it slowed down at security ramps on their way to court.

But, while monitoring the Kennedy couple's regular route to the court with his closest associate, William 'Winky' Dodds, and selecting the men to carry out the sensational attack, Adair made a fatal mistake.

On the third day of the hearing Adair himself caused a major security alert when he was spotted in the Royal Courts of Justice building where the appeal was being conducted.

Additional police patrols were assigned to monitor and escort the high profile American entourage from the Antrim Road to the court house for the remainder of their visit.

The security move thwarted Adair's plans and a month later, in May 1994, Adair was arrested and charged with directing terrorism.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News