EDL Bradford march banned
Padraig Reidy: EDL Bradford march banned
20 Aug 10

The Home Secretary has banned the English Defence League from marching through Bradford.

The Home Office has said:

“Having carefully balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, the Home Secretary today gave her consent to a Bradford Council order banning any marches in the city over the bank holiday weekend.

“West Yorkshire Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and property are protected and we encourage all local people to work with the police to ensure community cohesion is not undermined by public disorder.”

The letter from the Home Office confirming the ban is interesting, saying:

The application from the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police is clear that the activities of some who attend English Defence League protests — and indeed counter protests — has little to do with freedom of expression. So while the Government has set out its commitment to restore rights to non-violent protest, we are equally clear that such rights do not extend to intimidation, harassment, and criminality, and that rights to protest need to be balanced against the wider rights of local communities.

It’s nice that the notion of free expression is even acknowledged here.

But we must wonder: can we be free in a society that places public order above all other concerns?

Again, (see previous post)I’ll ask why offensive, potentially confrontational marches are allowed take place throughout Northern Ireland, but not in England?

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.