Northern Ireland

NI Orangemen at Scottish referendum 'No' Edinburgh rally

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Media captionNI Orangemen attend 'No' rally in Edinburgh

Orange Order members and bandsmen from Northern Ireland have joined a pro-Union rally in Edinburgh, days ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.

Police said 15,000 participants, 110 Orange lodge bands and several thousand spectators took part.

The official 'No' campaign refused to publicly support the event.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson said it was "an enormous celebration and an awesome expression of our pride in our United Kingdom".

"Our strength in numbers here today - in one of the largest Orange gatherings in recent times held in the UK - not only demonstrates our commitment to the cause, but also our grave concern at the imminent threat to the Union we all hold so dear," said the leader of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

Image caption Orangemen marched through the Scottish capital following a rally
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Image caption Some of the 15,000 Orangemen who took part in the parade on Saturday

Mr Stevenson said those who had questioned the rally's effectiveness had "demonised the Orange Institution in Scotland", and said Scottish Orangemen were "fully entitled to express their views in a democratic society on such an issue of utmost importance".

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Image caption About 110 Orange lodge bands participated in the event

He said the march in Edinburgh would "celebrate our Britishness by parading through one of the UK's most iconic cities".

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Media captionThousands of Orange Order supporters marched through Edinburgh

"Next year, as is a long held tradition, many will return to Scotland to join you for your annual Battle of the Boyne commemorations and we very much hope that we will not require our passports," he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The march passed through Edinburgh city centre

Henry Dunbar, grand master of the Orange Order in Scotland, told marchers: "The 'No' campaign has been criticised for not showing enough passion for the Union - well look out, here comes some passion.

"We are the Orangemen and women of Scotland and we are passionate about our Queen and country."