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July 08, 2014 AT 6:04 AM
Horrified that Scotland might break up the United Kingdom by voting for independence this autumn, thousands of Northern Ireland loyalists are preparing to fight back using their favored 17th century battle regalia: drums, flutes, banners and orange sashes. Loyalists, named for their allegiance to the British throne, will march in Edinburgh five days before Scotland's Sept. 18 independence vote in a powerful expression of their concern at the threat to the union that currently underpins the troubled province's identity, struggling economy and divided politics. By breaking up the United Kingdom, Scotland would force England and Northern Ireland to reassess their constitutional relationship, whose divisive details helped to fuel 30 years of bloodshed between Protestant loyalists and Catholic republicans who wanted to unite with the Irish Republic to the south. The anti-independence umbrella group, Better Together, has urged organizers to cancel the Edinburgh march, fearing that it could be seen as anti-Catholic and runs counter to their vision of a modern, inclusive Britain.