EDL rally in Manchester
EDL members are marshalled by Manchester police at a previous rally, in 2009

Fifteen people were arrested on at a demonstration by the far-right English Defence League (EDL) in Manchester on Saturday 2 March.

Around 700 supporters of the EDL, which claims to oppose radical Islam, gathered in Albert Square in the city centre, where hundreds of police flanked them and kept them apart from a 350-strong anti-fascist demonstration.

Of those arrested 12 were EDL protesters, while three were affiliated with the Unite Against Fascism group.

EDL demonstrators also hurled two smoke bombs at police.

Much of the city centre was closed to traffic as a result of the protest.

Speaking to the Daily Mail from the protest Councillor Pat Karney said: "I think the police operation has been absolutely fantastic, it's the best I've seen in Manchester.

"We had the horrible thugs from the EDL and people doing a counter demonstration but they've maintained peace in the city centre.

"The EDL had two priorities to bring their hate and evil to Manchester and then to disrupt the city centre.

"I saw the faces of the EDL when they came and they saw the compound that they were going into and they weren't that happy and I think they'll remember that kind of reception in Manchester.

"They do mess around and play games with the police but overall I think Manchester has won in the sense that we've not allowed them to disrupt the city centre and also they've not been able to their normal antics which is fighting and feuding with everybody else."

The Guardian reports that two people were arrested over an incident in which coins and a bottle were hurled at a UAF supporter who unfurled a banner saying 'Nazi Scum', and that a number of EDL supporters were arrested in fights between rival factions of the group at Victoria Station.

After the rally was over, police drove EDL demonstrators to train and bus stations so they could travel home, and escorted UAF supporters back to Piccadilly Gardens where they had initially gathered.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: "I would like to thank both the people of Manchester and the majority of protesters for their conduct today.

"It was always going to be a challenging operation with tensions running high between two groups of people who are vehemently opposed to each other.

"We, the council and the communities of Manchester have worked hard over the last couple of weeks in order to facilitate this protest in a safe and responsible manner, reducing the risk of disorder by ensuring there were no surprises. Today, this work has paid off.

"There was only minimal trouble at any point during the day and for most of Manchester city centre, it was just a case of business as usual."