UK: Far right-loyalist links strengthened

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Recent events have confirmed increasingly close links between nazis in London and a faction of the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) in Northern Ireland. The faction is embroiled in a feud with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), which has claimed seven lives in Belfast. The UFF's lower Shankill C Company, under the leadership of Johnny Adair, has grown in size and reputation due to a ruthless campaign against nationalists in the early 1990s. The onslaught was based on information received from the UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson between 1987 and 1990, who was also working for the British Army's military intelligence unit (see Statewatch vol 2 no 2, vol 3 no 2, vol 8 no 2). Adair's unit also adopted aspects of a neo-fascist philosophy acquired over a decade of collaboration with organisations such as the National Front or Combat 18.
Cooperation between loyalist paramilitaries and the right extend back to the 1970s, when members of the Conservative Party Monday Club, the National Front (NF) and the British Movement were jailed for running guns to Northern Ireland. Adair's links date to a later period, in the 1980s when as a young skin he became involved with the neo-nazi music organisation Blood and Honour (B&H) and marched in demonstrations organised by the NF. It was a period when, united in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, alliances were forged between loyalists and far-right organisations. As a result, from the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s far right organisations put aside their differences to launch concerted attacks on Irish civil rights marches from London to Manchester.
Adair was jailed for 16 years in 1996 for directing terrorism and was commander of the UFF in Long Kesh (The Maze) prison. He had served four years of his sentence when he was released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Last August he was returned to jail for breaching his license by orchestrating loyalist violence, but he has appealed to the early release body to overturn the ruling. In September a picket of Downing Street was organised by a UDA front group, the British Ulster Alliance, to protest at his re-imprisonment. It was supported by the NF and their national activities organiser, Terry Blackham, who took time off from coordinating an aggressive campaign against asylum-seekers in Kent seaports. Blackham, who has convictions for his part in attacks on Irish civil rights marches in London, was jailed for possession of guns and a grenade launcher which were destined for the UDA in 1994. The previous year another key NF member, Eddie Whicker, had been questioned on loyalist arms charges (see Statewatch vol 3 no 3).
Then in November, Steve Irwin, a Shankill UDA member who was convicted for an indiscriminate sectarian gun attack on a bar in Derry that left eight people dead in 1993, joined a Combat 18 (C18) demonstration in London. Irwin, who was jailed for life in 1995, was released in July under the terms of the Agreement. Outside the prison he was greeted by Adair. Irwin was photographed at the C18 Remembrance Sunday counter-rally where he shouted racist slogans and gave nazi salutes. A few months ago the Observer newspaper drew attention to the links between Irwin and C18 organiser Mark Atkinson.
In early December two C18 activists and "generals" of the Chelsea Headhunters football firm, Andy Frain and Jason Marriner, were jailed for six and seven years at Blackfriars crown court after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit volent disorder and affray. Frain was a key player in the Chelsea Headhunters, which has been allied to loyalist supporters at Glasgow Rangers since the mid-1980s. He has a string of previous convictions including assault, possession of racist material and importing drugs. The two men were secretly filmed by a journalist organising an attack on "a perfectly lawful" march to commemorate Bloody Sunday in London in 1998. The C18 leader, Will Browning

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