Published on Friday, 04 January 2013 10:49 Written by John Scheerhout
Manchester is braced for another mass demonstration by the far-right English Defence League.
The group has announced it plans a huge rally in the city centre from 1pm on March 2.
Already more than 500 people have vowed to attend the march.
Manchester was brought to a standstill last time the EDL visited the city in 2009, with a counter-protest by United Against Fascism.
The two sides were involved in a five-hour face-off and separated by riot police. Some 48 people were arrested during the day.
Estimates suggested the security operation cost the city £800,000.
Since then the EDL – led by Tommy Robinson – has held a number of other demonstrations, the last in Hyde last year.
The Hyde protests led to calls from cash-strapped leaders of Tameside Council and police bosses for the EDL to pay something towards the huge security operation and clean-up.
The EDL announced its ‘national demo’ on its Facebook page on Christmas Eve.
More than 500 people from all over the country immediately vowed to attend and more than a hundred others said they may join.
Its website describes the EDL as ‘peacefully protesting against militant Islam’ even though many of their demonstrations have been marred by trouble.
One, who described himself as ‘Tommy English’, wrote: “Can't wait!!!!!”
Others wrote: “Manchester is my city and I will fight for it” and “2013 will be our year!”
One wrote: “If I’m off my ban I will go.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “We are currently in the process of starting dialogue with the organisers.”
Pat Karney, the council’s city-centre spokesman, said: “We live in an open democracy so we respect different points of view.
“But there is no place in modern Manchester for this racist thuggery. They certainly won’t be welcome in our city.
“We have been through this before so we will be working very closely with police to minimise the mayhem that the EDL cause on any visit.”
Credit: Manchester Evening News