A "SALTIRE blue tsunami" has hit the Highlands and Islands for the first time after three Yes groups joined a huge independence alliance to cover the entire region, following the Manniefest event in Golspie.

Yes Highlands & Islands is celebrating after it added Yes Shetland, Yes Cowal and Yes Islay to its network of local Yes groups spanning one-third of Scotland.

The independence umbrella team now boasts 25 Yes groups from across the area, from Kintyre to Orkney and everywhere in between.

It comes off the back of the Manniefest festival in Golspie which has been hailed as a “significant step forward” for the Yes movement.

READ MORE: Manniefest makes its mark on Yes landscape as event proves success

The "first of its kind" three-day event brought together Yes groups from across Scotland’s Highlands and Islands.

The National published a 16-page special edition to mark the Manniefest event – and you can click HERE to read all the articles from that, setting out a vision for the Highlands and Islands after independence.

Reacting to the blue wave, Carole Inglis of Yes Highlands & Islands said a long-held dream has now been achieved.

She told The National: “We set up a Yes Highlands and Islands Twitter account to let people know about Manniefest.

“Yes Cowal, who have a long-running Yes hub in Dunoon saw our tweets, got in touch and asked to be added.

The National:

“Then someone commented that Shetland was missing from the map. When we spoke previously they hadn’t felt ready to join us.

“We knew Tom Wills [of Yes Shetland] had attended one of our speaker events, so we contacted him and he said someone will definitely come along to this month’s meeting.

“Last but not least, we are especially delighted that Yes Islay has re-joined us after a short break which takes Yes Highlands & Islands to 25 Yes groups and, in doing so, we have achieved our long-held dream of turning all of the Highlands and Islands saltire blue.”

Inglis said the team are now “ready and raring to go”, in anticipation of the “starting pistol” for independence with an indyref2 date.

Asked if the move means more events such as Manniefest will take place, Inglis said: “Someone's already asked on our WhatsApp group 'what's next folks?'

“We've done events before. That's part of building expertise and sharing it with others.”

The National:

The 'Saltire tsunami' comes off the back of the Manniefest festival

Asked how it feels to achieve the organisation’s dream, she said: “It feels really good, just to feel that we are really in a position of strength to go forward.

“It feels like we're all pointing in the same direction. I think we've got an open goal with the Tory party being in charge at Westminster.”

She said the move would be a great moment for unity in the Yes movement.

Lorraine Carson, who helps run Yes Highlands and Islands and was a co-organiser of Manniefest, said: "We are delighted that three more groups have joined us. It's great to see the Yes momentum manifest in the Highlands and Islands being amplified in this way.

"The weekend went very well, there was a good turnout, with locals and visitors attending.

"We think around 50 or 60 went up Ben Bhraggie in the morning with saltires, this was pictured by drones.

"We had a short procession into the centre of town, lead by Saor Alba pipes and drums, ending in the school bus park where we listened to national and local speakers on Independence, (including Lesley Riddoch and Dolina MacLennan) poets and music. The evening event was sold out with a lot of younger locals joining us, everyone had a great time.

"Yes Stones were there and raised some money to donate to the local foodbank and Yes Ross Sutherland and Yes Caithness made a donation to Highland Wildcats."

Patricia Farrington of Yes Islay told The National her group is ready to work together with the rest of the independence movement to win the next indyref.

She said: “After a short break Yes Islay is pleased to re-join Yes Highlands & Islands so that we can coordinate and highlight preparations for indyref2 next year.

“We need to work together with members of all parties and none, to win the vote in our island communities. It’s great to know we are now 25 groups turning the Highlands and Islands Saltire blue.”

READ MORE: Who should be first president of an independent Scotland?

Yes Cowal told The National it was “very happy indeed” to join the Highlands & Island's network, adding that it is gearing up to a public relaunch of  Yes Cowal funded by its Forward Shop.

Director of Yes Cowal Forward Shop and local SNP councillor Gordon Blair said: “The first and longest established hub in Scotland is delighted at this great opportunity to continue to be part of the blue Tsunami across the Highlands.”

The National:

Yes activists may expect more events such as Manniefest in the future, an indy activist has suggested

Local activist and member Dave Hill added: “We have been lucky to have heard Michael Russell at a number of events recently preparing the way and of course Nicola’s recent allocation of funds for the people to democratically decide their future in a referendum rekindles the flame of independence.

“The recent council election success in Argyll and Bute for the SNP including the election of Green candidate Luna Martin prepares the way for a concerted effort to ensure the months of anticipated negativity are rebuked by identifying positive outcomes for all our people".

The full list of Yes groups in the Highlands and Islands Network now includes:

  • Aye Fyne
  • Aye2
  • Aye Lochaber
  • Grassroots Oban
  • InverYess
  • Loch Yes
  • Outer Hebrides for Yes
  • Yes Badenoch and Strathspey
  • Yes Ben Wyvis, Yes Bute
  • Yes Caithness
  • Yes Forres
  • Yes Elgin/Moray
  • Yes Kintyre
  • Yes Lochaber
  • Yes Mull & Iona
  • Yes Nairn
  • Yes Orkney
  • Yes Ross Sutherland
  • Yes Skye & Lochalsh
  • Yes Speyside Glenlivet
  • Yes Ullapool and Loch Broom
  • Yes Gigha
  • Yes Islay
  • Yes Cowal
  • Yes Shetland