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infamous crime Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair says man who tried to kill him should face trial for Denis Donaldson killing

Adair says plans are ready to extradite Anton Duffy once he serves out conspiracy to murder sentence


Johnny Adair

Johnny Adair

Johnny Adair

Former loyalist terror chief Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair believes a republican jailed for plotting to kill him will stand trial for the murder of Provo double agent Denis Donaldson.

Adair was speaking from his home in Scotland last night hours after a Police Ombudsman Report into Donaldson's murder was made public.

He said he believed plans were already in place to scoop jailed republican Anton Duffy as soon as he becomes a free man again.

Duffy, from Mullaghduff in west Donegal, is currently serving a 17-year sentence for conspiracy to kill ex-UDA 'C Coy' boss Adair and his Shankill Road sidekick Sam 'Skelly' McCrory.

In 2015, the now 46-year-old was jailed along with fellow republicans Martin Hughes (43) and Paul Sands (39) who were sentenced to 11 and 10 years respectively.

Trial judge Lady Scott - who described Duffy in court as the "instigator and driving force" behind the double murder plan - also ruled that the Irishman be heavily scrutinised for three years following his release.


Anton Duffy, the man that plotted to kill Johnny Adair

Anton Duffy, the man that plotted to kill Johnny Adair

Anton Duffy, the man that plotted to kill Johnny Adair

But last night Adair said he believed Duffy may be due out sooner rather than later.

He understands Duffy will be immediately extradited from Scotland to stand trial for the murder of Donaldson in Donegal in 2006.

The former terror boss said: "Obviously, I keep a close watch on this individual. And I make it my business to closely monitor his movements.

"As far as I'm aware, everything is in place to take him back to the Republic of Ireland.

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"Duffy and the others were caught in a trap set up for them by MI5. It was a 13-month investigation before they were arrested.

"And Skelly and I knew absolutely nothing about it until the police arrived to tell us they had been arrested. But I made it my business to find out all I could about him," he said.

"Anton Duffy is a very dangerous man," added Adair, who was previously jailed for 16 years for directing loyalist terrorism.

Adair also revealed for the first time details of how Duffy and his gang kicked off their double murder conspiracy plan.

Adair had travelled with McCrory from their homes in Ayrshire to HMP Shotts in Lanarkshire to visit a former LVF prisoner.


Johnny Adair

Johnny Adair

Johnny Adair

And it was during their time in the visiting block that Duffy first spotted the well-known Ulster loyalists.

Duffy he hatched a plot to kill the Belfast men as they made their way to or from the jail.

Duffy even acquired an AK-47-style assault rifle for the job.

But their plan began to unfold when MI5 set up a special investigation aimed at snaring the would-be killers.

Operation Hairsplitter was set up in late September 2012 to investigate Duffy's concerted efforts to procure deadly weapons which he hoped to use on he planned hits on Adair and McCrory.

The authorities believed that if the murder plan had been successful, it would have had serious consequences with possible sectarian violence on both sides of the Irish Sea.

No expense was spared and expensive listening devices were used to eavesdrop on Duffy and his gang as they continued to make plans.

But republican plotters Duffy, Sands and Hughes were arrested in October 2013 and two others - who played lesser roles - were arrested later.

Speaking outside the court following the Duffy gang's conviction, Adair said the guilty men "deserved every minute" of their lengthy sentences.

"The severity of the sentences reflects the seriousness of the charges and I'm delighted that justice has been done today," he said.

In 2017, it emerged gardaí in Donegal had submitted a file on the Donaldson murder to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

And during an inquest hearing in Letterkenny two years later, a senior Garda officer revealed the director had ordered murder charges should be instigated.

It is understood the Donaldson family has been made aware of the identity of the individual at the centre Garda investigation. And they are also familiar with the particular difficulties detectives face in bringing him before the courts.

Two years ago, gardaí revealed a European Arrest Warrant had been executed by Police Scotland on a man currently resident in that country.


Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006 (Paul Faith/PA)

Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006 (Paul Faith/PA)

Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006 (Paul Faith/PA)

Last night, Adair said he was hopeful Duffy would soon be back in Donegal to answer questions connected to Donaldson's murder.

"Obviously, I made it my business to find out everything I could about this individual. As far as I know, that before going to jail all he did was sit about pubs drinking Guinness and plotting murder," Adair said.

"He is a very dangerous individual, but hopefully he'll be back in Donegal before too long."

Denis Donaldson's life - ended by a shotgun blast 16 years ago - was largely dominated by lies, deceit and double dealing.

But it wasn't always like that.

Almost from birth, Denis's heart was set on a romantic vision of a 32 county Irish socialist republic.

And as a teenager growing up in Belfast's Short Strand, he spent many nights attending education classes at a house across the bridge in south Belfast.

And he eventually joined the growing Irish Republican Movement in the mid-1960s.

It was a time of hope, because fully 50 years had passed since the Easter Rising in Dublin and things in Ireland were changing fast.

Denis Donaldson was one of a handful of new recruits sworn into the IRA at a secret ceremony in Ormeau Park.

And before long, he was to play a leading role in what became know as the 'Battle of St Matthew's', when IRA gunmen held off loyalists attacking the Catholic Short Strand in 1969.

But it was only years later that the truth of the 'battle' would emerge - that showed that Donaldson actually accidentally shot leading IRA man Billy McKee and another republican during the siege.

But the myth surrounding the St Matthew's gun battle did Denis Donaldson's republican credentials no harm. The false account was his first major lie. There was many more to come.


Bobby Sands in Long Kesh prison

Bobby Sands in Long Kesh prison

Bobby Sands in Long Kesh prison

After a stint in jail where he befriended future IRA hunger strike hero Bobby Sands, Donaldson went on to become a key Sinn Féin apparatchik and a close confidante of party chief Gerry Adams.

Although still a member of the IRA, Donaldson represented Sinn Féin in America.

And travelling on a false passport, he met Middle Eastern terrorist leaders at a training camp in Lybia.

On one bizarre excursion, he travelled to Beirut in a bid to secure the release of Belfast-born hostage Brian Keenan, when he met members of the Hezbollah terrorist group. Rebels in Lebanon had never heard of Sinn Féin, so he took to saying 'Bobby Sands' as a way of telling them that he was a republican from Ireland.

The fact that he could infiltrate infamous terror groups like Hezbollah made Donaldson an agent like no other.

Later in his role as Sinn Féin director of communications at Stormont, Donaldson gradually wore down unionist hostility by using his natural charm and good manners.

But unknown to everyone - including his own comrades - the affable Donaldson was a double agent.

He had secretly been recruited by the police Special Branch and later MI5 as a high-level informer operating inside Sinn Féin and the IRA.

And when the story broke in 2006 stone-faced Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness informed the assembled press. And later the same day, Donaldson admitted his role on TV. It later emerged he had also endured several debriefing sessions with republican interrogators.

In March 2006, the Sunday World tracked Denis Donaldson down to a remote cottage outside Glenties in Co Donegal. He insisted he had been thrown to the wolves by the authorities. And he said he wanted to be left in peace, although he ominously added: "I don't suppose there will be much peace now."

In reporting the story, we were careful not to release details of the exact location of Donaldson's hideaway. But just over two weeks later, Donaldson was shot dead inside the door of his cottage home.

As his shotgun-carrying killer approached the door, Donaldson went to investigate. Two shots were blasted through the door. One shot caught his hand almost severing it.

And as the killer reloaded his weapon, the door was smashed in. Donaldson was shot again, this time in the chest and head.

This week, following a series of complaints from the Donaldson family, Marie Anderson, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, made public her report.

She found the PSNI had been negligible in not providing adequate protection for the former spy after the Sunday World story was published.

And the Ombudsman also said no evidence existed to suggest the police had leaked Donaldson's whereabouts to the paper.

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