Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Russell Brand drops into Twaddell Avenue loyalist protest camp for a chat

How it might have looked: Russell Brand visits the Twaddell Avenue protest camp
How it might have looked: Russell Brand visits the Twaddell Avenue protest camp

Russell Brand is never far from controversy.

But on a cold and wet night in north Belfast, Brand was just a wide-eyed tourist looking to see what all the fuss was about in the Twaddell Avenue protest camp.

When he found out, his only reply was: "Cool".

Loyalists have established the camp opposite the Ardoyne shops.

They have been there for almost 130 days after the Parades Commission refused permission to allow the three Ligoniel lodges of the Orange Order to march past the contentious interface, which has been the scene of violent clashes in recent years.

Gerald Solinas, spokesman for the protest camp, said a phone call from Brand's publicist came out of the blue.

He explained: "This girl said she was his publicist and that he wanted to visit the camp and I just thought it was someone pulling my leg and when I told people he was coming and put it on Facebook, they all said it was a prank.

"He was very nice, very personable, very genuine. He was interested in what we were doing and what the campaign was all about and how it was going in the camp. And when I explained to him, he just said 'cool'."

The tour was organised by Nobel Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Both stayed silent on the trip, but his publicist confirmed it.

Mr Solinas added: "We had been asked not to take any pictures and no one did.

"But fair play to him for saying it happened and taking the time to come up and visit us. At the end of the day his visit helps publicise our campaign."

BACKGROUND

Film star and comedian Russell Brand is probably best known for his prank phone call with Jonathan Ross to Andrew Sachs – Manuel in Fawlty Towers – and the resulting scandal which led to Ross eventually leaving the BBC.

Loyalists have been protesting at Twaddell Avenue since July.

Russell Brand says David Cameron's privileged background means he is unable to relate to society  

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