Updated: Wednesday, 13th December 2017 @ 12:51pm

Manchester Arena attack: 'This Is The Place' poem lights up Albert Square vigil

Manchester Arena attack: 'This Is The Place' poem lights up Albert Square vigil

| By Tom George

Thousands attended a vigil in Albert Square last night to remember the victims of Monday night’s attack at the Manchester Arena.

With the vigil scheduled for 6pm, the square quickly began to fill up an hour beforehand as those wishing to pay their respects to the 22 people who died and the 59 injured flocked in from around the world.

People from all walks of life were in attendance, carrying placards bearing messages of hope and solidarity. The arrival of members of Manchester’s Sikh community at around 5.40pm was met by loud applause, as they declared their love for the city.

Under a bright blue sky, the mourners were then addressed by the Lord Mayor Eddy Newman and the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker.

The Lord Mayor spoke first, thanking the efforts of the emergency services before declaring that “the people of Manchester will remember the victims forever.”

The Bishop then highlighted the city’s belief in diversity and had a message for those attempting to divide the community.

“You cannot defeat us because love, in the end, is always stronger than hate,” he told the crowd.

Tony Walsh, also known as “the Longfella poet”, then read a poem called “This Is the Place”, a beautiful ode to the city which moved many of those in attendance to tears.

The line ‘This is a place where a Manchester girl, name of Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side…’ was met by rapturous applause. Moments later, there was laughter at the suggestion that the city ‘invented commuters’.

“Choose love, Manchester,” said Walsh, before the crowd broke out into spontaneous chanting.

The poem was defiant and accurately captured the mood of Manchester on a day where so much grief and horror was met by resilience and city pride.

This was followed by an impeccably observed minute’s silence, before a candle was lit by the Bishop.

Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham and Tim Farron were among those in attendance to pay their own respects to the victims of last night’s callous attack, which targeted a crowd, largely made up of children, at an Ariana Grande concert.

Police have since named the perpetrator, who died during the attack, as Salman Ramadan Abedi, a Mancunian of Libyan descent.