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By Hugh Boag
The independence march through Campbeltown on Saturday was a huge success and put a real zest for life back into the town which has been too long forgotten.
That was the view of organiser Manny Singh who despite his apparent sacking from the All Under One Banner organisation was very much still in charge at the Campbeltown march.
Afterwards he said: ‘It was a huge success for Campbeltown and the biggest demonstration for decades. There was a lot of spirit and a feeling that a number of towns in Scotland which have been forgotten, like Campbeltown, will not be left behind after independence.’
He put the turnout at more than 2,000 and added: ‘The fact that the march extended the length of Longrow gives a fair indication of the numbers who were there.
He also told the Courier this week that he remained the ‘legal indentity’ of the All Under One Banner group, despite a bitter public row among the hierarchy which looks like splitting the group in two.
It was the biggest rally held in the town in recent years with marchers coming from as far afield as Aberdeen and Alloa and as well as Oban, Glasgow and Islay, with many travelling on the weekend ferry from Ardrossan.
‘It really exceeded expectations and made a big splash in the town, Ron Wilson of Yes Kintyre told The National.
‘There was a real buzz as people came early and most of the hotels were booked up. The pubs and cafes were busy so it was good for local businesses. Campbeltown is a Yes town and it was brilliant to have all these people come here. Local people were coming off the pavements and joining the procession so it created a good, positive vibe.
Pro-Unionists opponents held their own counter demonstation. However, the march went off without any incident and there were no arrests, with only one warning which was drug related.
A spit of rain earlier in the day failed to develop into poor weather as the marchers would round the town to hear speakers and listen to musicians at the rally at Kinloch Green.
Mr Wilson said he was particuarly pleased at the turnout as there had been some confusion over whether the march would go ahead due to internal divsions within the hierachcy of All Under One Banner, which has organised independence marches across the country.
Following Mr Singh’s sacking, founder Neil Mackay resigned from his position on its national executive pending an internal investigation.
Pro-UK Unionist group A Force For Good met the march on the shore front and say they filmed and counted the marchers, as they have at previous events, and afterwards claimed the turnout was just 974.
Director, Alistair McConnachie, said: ‘All Under One Banner is basically the marching wing of the SNP. AUOB, and SNP MPs and MSPs, lie about the numbers which attend their marches, sometimes up to 10 or 12 times.
‘Unfortunately, they are not challenged by the Scottish media. The good news is that A Force For Good has a presence at every AUOB march. We bear witness to the huge value of the United Kingdom. Our “Thin Red Line” stands for everyone who likes being British, who likes the UK, and who wants us to stay together.’
A group from Barrowfield at the Campbeltown cross ahead of the march. NO_B31march01
Manny Singh stewarding at the Campbeltown march. NO_B31march02
The marchers gather with the supporters from Arran to the fore. NO_B31march03
All dressed up and ready to go. NO_B31march04
A young supporter is well prepared. NO_B31march05
A sea of Saltires as the march comes down the hill. NO_B31march06
A proud warrior leads the march. NO_B31march07
The young and old marched side by side. NO_B31march08
The march was held under the AUOB flag, despite its difficulties. NO_B31march09
Flying the flag at the march. NO_B31march10
Pensioners show their support for independence. NO_B31march12
A young mum pushes her pram at the march. NO_B31march13
Paisley supporters came down for the march. NO_B31march14
There was support for Catalan as well during the demonstration. NO_B31march15
The Trossachs SNP branch travelled a good distance for the march. NO_B31march16
A mum and her children take part in the march. NO_B31march18
A man with a loudspeaker makes his voice heard. NO_B31march19
The Indy Girls show their support. NO_B31 march20
Flashpoint the marchers are heckled by a Unionist counter demonstration. NO_B31march21
The two sides are kept well apart by barriers and the police. NO_B31march22
Two young girls are still smiling after the encouter. NO_B31march23
Supporters of A Force For Good are happy to have made their point. NO_B31march24
A happy family at the rally on the green. NO_B31march25
The crowd listen to the rally speakers. NO_B31march26
Even a unicorn got in on the act at the march. NO_B31march27