Town braced for EDL rally

Police at the scene as far-right groups stage an anti-immigration rally in Wigan town centre, as anti-racist protesters rally against their rally.
Police at the scene as far-right groups stage an anti-immigration rally in Wigan town centre, as anti-racist protesters rally against their rally.

Anti-extremist groups in Wigan are readying themselves as a far-right movement is planning a town centre rally.

According to social media, the English Defence League will stage a march “against Irish republicanism” later this month.

The group says it is a response to pro-republican marches in Liverpool, among others.

Town MP Lisa Nandy told the Wigan Post the EDL will find they are “not welcome” in the town.

And a spokesperson for Wigan Trades Council group has said it will oppose the demonstration.

A post on an EDL Facebook page about the rally, planned for May 13 in Wigan town centre, reads: “With the news broken that Sinn Féin are pushing for a referendum on Northern Ireland leaving the UK, we must march to defend the rights of this country. Northern Ireland cannot leave the UK and join up with the Republic of Ireland.”

Greater Manchester Police has been made aware of the planned demonstration, the Post understands.

Ms Nandy said: “Despite repeated attempts to whip up fear and division, Wigan has consistently rejected the nasty, racist politics of the far-right.

“In recent years, hundreds of people in Wigan have turned out to support the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate and donated to our local Syrian Refugee Appeal.

“I am proud of the history of compassion and solidarity here. The EDL will find, as usual, they are not welcome in this town.”

In 2015, an anti-immigration rally staged by the National Front and North West Infidels saw violent scenes in the town centre as they clashed with counter protestors and the police.

Hundreds of police including tactical aid units and police dogs were in attendance to keep the two groups apart.

The march was led down Library Street and along Hewlett Street before continuing on Millgate and Standishgate.

No further details about the planned march later this month appear to have been released, apart from the general location of Wigan and that it will take place in the afternoon. The EDL is known for its street demonstrations and protests.