Sunday Life

Beaten to a pup

03 October 2004

'Mad Dog' Adair showed greater loyalty to drugs than his own family when he ordered the brutal beating of his son, after he attacked a Catholic teenager who was buying drugs from the UDA.

From his prison cell Adair demanded the punishment beating of 'Mad Pup' and Alan McCullough - later assassinated by Adair's UDA rivals for backing Adair in a feud - after the teen's mother confronted the UDA over the attack on her son.

The pair had broken a golden rule - they had assaulted clients using the notorious lower Shankill 'dope flat'.

A young Catholic schoolboy, still in the uniform that marked out his religion, travelled to buy drugs on Shankill Way.

As he was leaving the estate with his purchase, he was set upon by Alan McCullough and Adair, jnr who beat him to a pulp, stole his watch, mobile phone, money and the ten-deal of hashish he had just bought from the 'C' company-controlled drugs base.

The schoolboy, lucky to escape with his life, ran from the area up the Antrim Road.

Incredibly, when he told his mother about his ordeal, she got into her car and drove to Boundary Way to seek a meeting with John White in the 'Community House' directly facing the Adair's home.

White assured the Catholic mother that "something would be done" about the boy's assailants.

Mimicking the modus operandi of the Army, the UDA had 'provost marshals' in every brigade area, sadistic men who dished out internal discipline to members who transgressed the movement's tenets.

The golden rule in the lower Shankill was to do nothing that would disrupt business and drive potential customers, regardless of their religion, away from the 'dope flat'.

Tommy Potts, the West Belfast brigade's provost marshal, dished out a severe beating to McCullough and Adair, jnr.

Despite the hammering, McCullough was still highly regarded by Adair and, on his releases from prison, Mad Dog had elevated him to overall commanded of 'C' company, just before the second feud erupted.

He was therefore forced to flee Northern Ireland, on the UDA's own 'night of the long knives'.

Exiled to Bolton with the core of the Adair faction, young 'Bucky' pined for home.

After receiving assurances that he could return, when McCullough left his Belfast home for a meeting with two UDA men, he never returned, his body found later buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the city.

Catholics diced with death to get next fix on the Shankill

Young Catholics regularly risked their lives crossing the sectarian divide to buy drugs from the bigoted killers in the UDA.

They funded the murder squads being sent out from north and west Belfast, in return for 'gear' flooding Ulster from loyalist sympathisers and crime gangs, in Britain.

However, the UDA godfathers - hungry for the profits from drugs - left themselves wide open to infiltration by the security services, by using links with English and Scottish crime-gangs.

In the early 1990s, two areas became infamous for the importation and distribution of Ecstasy - the lower Shankill and Rathcoole estates.

In the lower Shankill, members of 'C' company started using empty flats in the estate as 'drugs houses'.

In Shankill Parade, they would deal drugs from a flat they controlled, hiding their stashes up the drainpipe adjacent to the premises.

In 1992, with the UDA's murder campaign at full throttle, young drug-users and ravers would travel from every part of Belfast to buy their 'gear' from the 'C' company drugs flat.

Many of their customers were Catholics from republican districts who, if they couldn't get 'gear' from the IPLO, crossed the peace line into the lower Shankill.

Those elements in the UDA dabbling in the trade bought drugs from criminal gangs in Scotland, London and north-west England, usually employing UDA sympathisers in Britain to set up the deals.

Consorting with ordinary criminals exposed these UDA units to the security services, which had legions of informants in the underworld across the Irish Sea.

The guns and drugs trades intersected, and the criminals behind both had no allegiance to anyone, least of all the warring factions of Northern Ireland.

The London UDA, in particular, had links to organised crime in south-east England, and a number of the brigade's members - men such as James Portinari - were convicted of possessing not only weapons but also Ecstasy.

'C' company, one of the supply bases for Ecstasy in greater Belfast, became rich from the trade, and team commanders in the lower Shankill could afford to pay their members for carrying out murders, attempted murders, sabotage or intimidation.

This is not to suggest that those waging the UDA's terror campaign either in Belfast or beyond were mere mercenaries.

Nonetheless, the lifestyles of those on the inner sanctum of the 'struggle' contrasted glaringly with the grim hardship of life in places such as the lower Shankill.

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