'Mad Dog' will be Bolton bound after his release from prison

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 19, 2004
The Observer

Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, once renowned as the face of violent loyalism, is heading for Bolton in the new year and is hoping to melt into relative obscurity in the Lancashire town.

The former Ulster Defence Association leader is due for release from Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim, in four weeks. There had been fears in Belfast that he would seek revenge on those who expelled him from the loyalist movement.

But Adair has indicated that he is preparing to be reunited with his wife, Gina, and children in Bolton at the start of the year. Gina Adair underwent successful surgery earlier this year for ovarian cancer. She has been told her cancer is in remission.

The 40-year-old loyalist, chief of the routed 'C' company faction of the UDA, said he was visited by detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who asked him about his plans.

'The PSNI wanted to know what my plans were for when I get out. Was I going back to the Shankill, or Scotland or Bolton,' he said.

'I told them that my first priority is to be with my wife and children. But I said that I would be taking things one day at a time. I haven't made any plans apart from that.'

However, those closest to him during his reign as terror boss on Belfast's Lower Shankill estate said there was little doubt Adair was planning to resettle in Bolton.

'All his "C" company allies are either in jail, on the side of the UDA leadership now, or in exile themselves. He has no base back in Belfast. If he walked up the Shankill Road on release there would be a queue of people to take pot shots at him,' one leading loyalist on the Shankill said. 'Johnny and the era he represented is finished and over for good.'

Adair and his allies were routed just under two years ago in a feud which had threatened to tear apart the UDA. His bid for supreme power in the largest loyalist paramilitary movement backfired and after his arrest in February 2003 the UDA expelled about a dozen of his core supporters from Northern Ireland.

He was turned down for Christmas parole this year on advice from the PSNI. It is the second Christmas in a row that Adair has been refused seasonal parole.

'I didn't really hold out much hope. But I thought seeing that I was down to the last few weeks of my sentence there might not be too big a problem,' Adair said.

'But the No 1 governor came to see [me] this week and said my parole had been refused, but the decision had been made above him.

'So I take it was probably somebody in the NIO [Northern Ireland Office] or PSNI who has refused my parole.

'But I believe it is grossly unfair.'

The Greater Manchester Police have plans to question Adair once he arrives in Bolton in late January. His son, Jonathan Junior, is currently serving a prison sentence for drug dealing in north-west England.

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