Twaddell: ‘1,000 days is a long time without results’

Next Thursday marks 1,000 days of the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in Belfast
Next Thursday marks 1,000 days of the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in Belfast

A leading figure in the Glasgow-based Regimental Blues has questioned how loyalists in north Belfast can “wait 1,000 days for their political representatives to provide results”.

Kris McGurk said he and other colleagues from the Regimental Blues – a pressure group campaigning for the loyalist community – have been “taking over duties” at Camp Twaddell since Friday.

“This campaign is running for a week,” he said.

“It is to show all parties involved that Belfast loyalists do not stand alone in this and they won’t be going anywhere.

“We will be engaging with a lot of people over the next seven days and that is about all I can say on it.

“We have a full team over and will work to keep the camp open by operating on rotation.”

Mr McGurk, 25, an ex-British soldier, said the support he has seen from loyalists in north Belfast has been “outstanding”.

“Community tensions are at boiling point here,” he said.

“There are so many different things going on with so many different people affected by absolutely everything.

“Loyalists have been left for 1,000 days and no one is budging, so something has got to give and I think that is where the tension is coming from.

“Things can’t keep on going the way they are going. Loyalists’ representatives and politicians are going to meetings and come away second best. This time loyalists are saying no more. This is not a point that we are conceding.”

The Twaddell camp was set up in 2013 after three Orange lodges were refused permission for their return parade past the Ardoyne shops along the Crumlin Road on July 12.

Members of the lodges pledged to retain a presence until they are granted permission to stage the final leg.

This led to an outbreak of violent clashes, and a regular police presence has been retained there ever since, with the bill running into millions of pounds.

Mr McGurk added: “The Regimental Blues are a peaceful campaign group.

“There has never been a campaign we have thrown our weight behind that we have not got results – and without violence. There is no need for violence.”

On Thursday a march will mark 1,000 days of the loyalist protest at Twaddell Avenue.

It is expected to see crowds travelling from around the Province to attend, according to Gerald Solinas, organiser of the Twaddell protest.