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Sunday Life

Sam 'Bib' Blair accused of stealing £50k from Belfast UDA funds

Terror group left with no money for widow hampers

Bib Blair
Bib Blair
Andre Shoukri
John Boreland and Andre Shoukri
Murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin who was found stabbed to death on the Somerton Road at the rear of St.Patrick's College

By Ciaran Barnes and John Toner

HATED UDA boss Sam 'Bib' Blair has been kicked out of the terror gang after being accused of stealing cash from the Christmas kitty.

A team of West Belfast UDA heavies spent the week prowling the Tigers Bay area of north Belfast hunting the deposed North Belfast UDA 'brigadier', a big gambler and convicted extortionist.

Unable to find pony-tailed Bib, they sent word to him through friends that he has been expelled from the terror gang for theft.

Blair (64), who was in hiding, contacted other UDA bosses who mediated on his behalf to have a threat lifted in return for Bib sacrificing his criminal rackets to the rival west Belfast mob.

The West Belfast UDA - led by veteran Shankill loyalist Matt Kincaid - also announced that it has taken over the running of the organisation in the north of the city including all its crime rackets.

"Bib would do well to heed this warning," a UDA source told Sunday Life.

Sources claim that around £50,000 has gone missing from the north Belfast unit's coffers over an 18-month period but matters came to a head over the empty Christmas kitty.

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Andre Shoukri

Blair himself denies being kicked out of the UDA, telling Sunday Life yesterday he has stood himself down for health reasons.

But sources claim convicted extortionist Blair came under pressure last week when he announced to his men that there was no cash in the Christmas kitty.

Sources claim every year the North Belfast UDA gives money or food hampers to members who are in ill health and the widows of ex-prisoners.

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John Boreland and Andre Shoukri

Blair's revelation that there would be no gifts caused fury in the ranks, prompting the West Belfast UDA's takeover.

It was then that he was accused of blowing all the festive funds at the bookies.

A massive gambler, Blair is regularly seen touring betting shops in the centre of Belfast, staking large sums on horse races.

A second UDA source explained that this was the final straw for him in the eyes of his men.

The insider said: "This is the first time in living memory that the North Belfast UDA has been unable to provide Christmas presents for its veterans and the widows of ex-prisoners.

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Murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin who was found stabbed to death on the Somerton Road at the rear of St.Patrick's College

"It's a tradition going back to the 1970s, and one that every single brigadier since then has stuck to, no matter what the cost.

"Bib played us all for fools. Everyone knows where the Christmas money was spent - in the bookies.

"No one wanted Bib as brigadier in the first place, and now he has finally been kicked out."

Blair denied the claims when he spoke to a Sunday Life reporter yesterday at his home, saying he had "walked away" from the organisation three weeks ago.

"It's false information, I've certainly had no threats from the UDA or anybody else.

"Yes, I was involved and I walked away. Unfortunately when you walk away this what you get. It happens to everybody who walks away. People feel as if they can say what they like about you, that's what happens.

"All this stuff about Christmas money and whatever is nonsense, utter nonsense. It doesn't happen. Men used to get paid when the Troubles were on."

He added: "I've left it all behind, I'm no longer involved, I resigned but this is what you get.

"Lies are told about me willy-nilly."

He also denied being a big gambler, saying: "I'm 64 years of age; you show me a man in Northern Ireland who doesn't go out for a pint and a football bet on a Saturday afternoon.

"I stepped away three weeks ago, so I did, and said to my wife, wait 'til you see what we're gonna get this week or the following week. I was apparently getting 10 grand a week from a heroin dealer, absolute nonsense.

"I'm in ill health, that's why I stepped aside. I've got diabetes and bowel problems. I've got grandchildren as well, it was just time to go.

"People have it all wrong, it's all about community work, that's all it is now, a hundred per cent without a doubt. It's a community-based organisation."

"You can look at my record. Okay, I've been done for extortion 17 years ago, but I've never been arrested for drugs, I've no involvement in drugs whatsoever. I never had.

"I've nothing to hide. I would like to retire in peace, that's all I want.

"I want to try and get on with my life and get my health back again if I can, I've lost over three stone through health problems."

Blair was appointed North Belfast UDA brigadier in 2016 after six other members turned down the position, seeing it as a poisoned chalice.

Most of the terror unit's income comes from extorting drug dealers, while it also has business interests in taxi depots and two bars.

These rackets are now in the hands of the West Belfast UDA which has previously tried to expand into north Belfast, sending a mob into the Mount Bar in Tigers Bay in 2017 which beat up two men.

Blair's exit will also be a blow to South Belfast UDA chief Jackie McDonald, who supported his leadership and who is believed to have been exerting control over him.

Even while holding the rank of North Belfast UDA 'brigadier', Blair was considered a joke figure within the terror gang. He was not invited to UDA Inner Council summits or community funding meetings with government and charity officials.

A veteran loyalist, he was jailed for six years in 2004 for trying to extort £2,000 from an undercover policeman who he thought was a builder, telephoning the cop and threatening him to hand over cash.

After his arrest, Blair claimed to have been beaten up by the UDA over an unpaid £1,000 debt and that he only got involved in the blackmail plot to pay back the cash.

This was the second time he was attacked by the terror gang, having been kneecapped previously over his role in a failed attempt to oust the Shoukri brothers from power in north Belfast.

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Andre Shoukri

Blair, who is from the White City estate, is also hated for his public defence of Nigel Brown, one of the sectarian killers of 15-year-old schoolboy Thomas Devlin (left) in 2005.

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Murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin who was found stabbed to death on the Somerton Road at the rear of St.Patrick's College

Brown, who is serving life in prison, had a family link to Blair. Blair pleaded Brown's innocence, saying: "As far as I am concerned, and anyone willing to tell the truth will say this, Nigel Brown went to prison for a murder he didn't commit."

He is also known to be under threat from friends of ex-UDA boss John Boreland who was gunned down in 2016 during an internal dispute. It was following the horrific shotgun killing that he assumed the position of North Belfast UDA 'brigadier'.

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John Boreland and Andre Shoukri

Although not linked directly to the murder, Blair is known to be a target for Boreland's pals who have promised revenge.

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