Irish Sunday Independent journalist Alan Murray unearthed a plot by loyalist terrorist Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair to assassinate Courtney Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy and her husband Paul Hill when they were in north Belfast in 1994. Adair had planned to attack the couple with a rocket-propelled grenade while they were driving in their car. Hill and three others spent 15 years in jail in England, having been wrongly convicted of the pub bombing in Guildford, England that killed five and left over 100 injured. Hill was in Belfast attending the High Court trial to clear his name in the murder of the ex-soldier Brian Shaw.
Adair, considered to be a highly effective planner of terrorism, planned to fire the grenade at the limousine the couple was driving to the High Court while it slowed down at security ramps on Donegal Park Avenue, which would have made Kennedy and Hill an almost stationary target. The murders would have caused international outrage and garnered massive media attention for Adair and the Ulster Defence Association.
The violent plan was thwarted by the police, who raised the alarm when they saw Adair attempt to enter the High Court during Hill’s appeal, according to Murray. He told Irish America, “There were a number of rocket attacks at that time when they [Hill and Kennedy] were in Belfast. The attack did not go ahead because there were a lot of police watching Adair. The police had flooded into the area before it could take place.”
Murray phoned Adair, who is currently serving time in prison, to confirm the story as it had been described to him by sources from the UDA. Adair did not confirm or deny the plot, which the journalist took to be a kind of confirmation. Although other journalists had heard rumors about the terrorist plan previously, Murray was the first to collect enough sources and circumstantial evidence to have the story come to print.
Adair, who has been released from prison as part of the Good Friday Agreement, is serving time again for directing terrorism. However, he is currently applying for release. Paul Hill, speaking to Irish America, said, “All of these stories are surfacing now, not because they have a moral dilemma for what happened, but because they (other loyalists who are feuding amongst themselves) want to keep Adair in prison.”
Hill also pointed out that Bill Flynn, the American chairman of Mutual of America, had been traveling in the car with them, as was Bill Barry, onetime Kennedy bodyguard. Though they had a police escort to the courtroom each morning, Hill said that Barry, as a precaution, would not give the police the directions the driver was going to take beforehand, a move that possibly saved their lives. ♦