Belfast Telegraph

Loyalists at war: Mad Dog's sick boasts before the blood had dried

JOHNNY 'Mad Dog' Adair boasted about his terror prowess to interrogators just hours after setting up the Rising Sun slaughter, in Greysteel.

JOHNNY 'Mad Dog' Adair boasted about his terror prowess to interrogators just hours after setting up the Rising Sun slaughter, in Greysteel.

As the tiny Co Londonderry village struggled to come to terms with the horrific events of the night before - when two gunmen sprayed the packed bar with automatic gunfire, killing five men and two women - Adair was in Castlereagh Holding Centre being questioned about the Hallowe'en massacre.

Cops quizzing him dumped a bible-thick pile of Sunday newspapers on to the table, in front of Adair.

Every headline screamed out the same message: "Slaughter at Greysteel".

The young RUC inspector, who had dropped the bundle in front of Adair, hoped to unnerve the cocky young commander.

"I tried to get him talking about Greysteel.

"I pointed to the headlines and the photographs of the victims and said, 'What the hell do you think about that?'

"I remember he just sat there staring at the papers, and then smiled and replied: 'Whoever organised that must have been some operator. He's some boy - whoever he is.'

"I was furious, because I knew he was playing games with me. He was trying to tell me something, without implicating himself."

On the morning after Greysteel, the inspector who showed Adair the newspapers hoped he would crack.

He had been known to boast about his exploits, and speak carelessly to police officers, in the streets of the lower Shankill.

However, although Adair had a tendency to talk about his power and prowess within the UDA, he was smart enough not to fall into any traps.

His preferred ruse in these sparring sessions with his interrogators was to switch from the first to the third-person - hence the response that whoever organised the massacre must have been "some operator".

The 'Trick or Treat' killings were a direct response to the IRA bombing of Frizzel's fish shop on the Shankill Road, seven days earlier.

The target of that attack was the entire UDA Inner Council and Johnny Adair himself.

Even before Greysteel, Adair's 'C' company had gone on the rampage in Belfast, killing two Catholic street cleaners, at their Kennedy Way depot in west Belfast.

And the RUC had intelligence that, prior to the Greysteel shootings, Adair had been in the north west, goading on individual unit commanders to strike back, to seize the initiative.

"He moved around the province, holding meetings all over the place, mainly with young UDA men who looked up to him and held him in awe," his interrogator said.

"Adair once boasted that the ball was at his feet when it came to loyalist violence; there was a certain amount of truth in that boast."

Among the young UDA men who looked up to Adair were the Rising Sun killers, Torrens Knight, Stephen Irwin, Jeffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill, who were all later jailed for life, for their part in the massacre.

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