SDL in Royal Mile march during Edinburgh Festival

In the past the SDL has been restricted to static protests in the Capital. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
In the past the SDL has been restricted to static protests in the Capital. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FAR-RIGHT extremists are expected to get the go-ahead to march down the Royal Mile and protest outside the Scottish Parliament at the height of the city’s festival season.

The Scottish Defence League (SDL) has applied to demonstrate against alleged state neglect of battle-weary soldiers returning from war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

City chiefs are today set to determine the march application – to take place on August 17 – having previously denied a string of marches by the far-right group.

On these occasions, the SDL have held static demonstrations with police noting that there had been no reports of “significant disorder or 
damage to property”.

In a report, Police Scotland said “the level of disruption to the life of the community has been reduced event by event as a result of enhanced co-operation between all of those involved”.

It is understood SDL representatives agreed to reschedule earlier plans for a march on August 24 that would have clashed with the Festival of Politics taking place that day in Holyrood.

The new march date clashes with Hibs’ home fixture against Dundee United and is expected to provoke a counter demonstration by Unite Against 

Graham Walker, a spokesman for the SDL, said the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May inspired the August protest but said the group would trumpet the need for more government support for returning troops.

He said: “This march is in support of our British soldiers. Soldiers who lost their limbs during war and return with post-traumatic stress disorder and need more support from our Government.

“British soldiers are doing one of the best jobs in the world and need more help when they come back.”

Mr Walker said the SDL had proven from previous demonstrations that they were a “peaceful group”.

But Malcolm Chisholm MSP, who previously signed statements of support of a counter demonstration by Unite Against Fascism, said: “If they do march there will be a counter demonstration and the important thing is that it is challenged.

“I would prefer the march didn’t take place but if it does it’s essential there’s a large counter demonstration that challenges the hatred the SDL stand for.”