Belfast Telegraph

Next time I'll be back for good, vows Adair

By Noel McAdam
25 February 2005

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Maverick loyalist Johnny Adair has vowed to return to Northern Ireland for good after a flying visit - leaving a political storm in his wake.

The terrorist chief defied UDA death threats as he reportedly shook hands on the Shankill and went to Drumcree Hill in Portadown.

The leading loyalist walked the streets of the Shankill on the same day Irish President Mary McAleese had called off a visit to the area just a month after his release from jail.

On the Shankill, Adair (41) said he had been welcomed with people coming out to shake his hand.

"I told them it was only a flying visit but it wouldn't be too long before I was back for good," he said.

In a gesture of defiance to the UDA leaders who banished Adair, his family and supporters from the area, the convicted loyalist leader posed in front of a wall mural to the dead Loyalist Volunteer Force leaders Billy Wright and Mark Fulton in Union Street, Portadown.

He said: "They said I'd be shot on sight if I ever set foot back in Northern Ireland but it didn't take an army for me to walk back around the Shankill road."

Adair said he could not confirm when he would return to the province - but his plans were "coming along nicely".

As word of his presence spread, the UDA sent men to the Seagoe Hotel area of Portadown where police vehicles also arrived.

A UDA spokesman described the situation as "volatile" but it was later confirmed Adair had again left the province.

SDLP Upper Bann Assembly member Dolores Kelly said: "This will be a worrying development for the entire community here.

"Portadown has quietened down in recent years and Johnny Adair's presence here can only be a worrying sign.

"Johnny Adair brought nothing but death and destruction to the nationalist community and his own community in Belfast.

"He must not be allowed to do the same in Portadown.

"I have already been in contact with the police to express my concerns and will be liaising with them further on this worrying development," she said.

Adair, who was released last month after serving two-thirds of a 16-year sentence for directing terrorism, was expelled by the leadership of the UDA in late 2002.

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