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Scottish loyalists 'Regimental Blues' set for regular visits to Twaddell protest camp

By Rebecca Black

Published 09/05/2016

Loyalist protest in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalist protest in the Woodvale area of north Belfast

A group of Scottish loyalists are set to make regular visits from Glasgow to join at the protest camp at Twaddell, it can be revealed.

The 'Regimental Blues' took up a residency at the camp on the north Belfast interface for a week in March in the run-up to the 1,000th day of protest.

Now they have revealed plans to return for a week on May 27, and after that they hope to run the camp for a week every two months.

Group spokesman Kris McGurk told the Belfast Telegraph that they had lots of positive engagement with the community on their first visit and felt that regularly helping man the camp would be the best way to support the Twaddell protesters.

However, with the exception of visiting the shops in Ardoyne during their stay in March, Mr McGurk said they had not engaged with the nationalist community at the flashpoint.

He said "that is the job of the politicians".

The protest at Twaddell has been running since July 2013 when the PSNI enforced a Parades Commission decision to bar an Orange parade from passing Ardoyne on the Crumlin Road. Protesters have stated they will continue their protest until the parade is allowed to formally complete its route up the Crumlin Road to return to Ligoniel.

A number of groups, including Orange lodges, community groups and political parties, all do shifts to ensure the camp is regularly manned.

The camp was originally manned 24 hours a day and included band parades in the area every evening, but almost three years later there is a much lower level of protest.

The Regimental Blues have come out in support of the camp's aim. Based in Glasgow, they describe themselves as supporters of the loyalist community in Scotland, and say they use various techniques when campaigning, including the internet and the "boots of our regiment on the street".

Membership has grown to the extent where they can now mobilise two teams - one in Glasgow and one that can travel to Belfast once every eight weeks to help run the camp at Twaddell.

Mr McGurk said he believes Twaddell should be a high priority for the new MLAs returning to Stormont today as they enter two weeks of negotiations to form a new executive.

"This time when we come over will be different," he said. "The first time was introductions and meeting people. Now our eyes and ears are open so we will be engaging more formally with the politicians," he said.

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