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Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK


Peace protesters arrested at subs base

Faslane has been the scene of many protests over the years

Thirty-seven anti-nuclear protesters were arrested during a demonstration at the UK's largest nuclear submarine base on Sunday.

Police said the arrests were made after a group of around 50 demonstrators tried to cut through security fencing surrounding the Faslane base, on the River Clyde. Britain's fleet of Trident submarines is kept there.

[ image: Protestors tried to cut their way into where the UK's fleet of Trident submarines are kept]
Protestors tried to cut their way into where the UK's fleet of Trident submarines are kept
Other protesters tried to block the main gate of the base by lying down in front of it.

Strathclyde Police said 19 of the arrests were for breaches of the peace and malicious mischief offences. Ministry of Defence officers made the other 18 arrests.

The protest was part of a programme of "non-violent direct action" over the next few weeks by the Ploughshares 2000 campaign aimed at "disarming" Trident.

Ploughshares 2000 is an international peace movement opposed to nuclear weapons.

After the protest a spokeswoman for the organisation said: "We feel that this was a very successful action and we achieved a great deal in highlighting the dangers of these weapons of mass destruction.

"If we can cause the problems we have done with peaceful protest, what would a group armed with machine guns be able to do?"

Ploughshares 2000 launched its current campaign on 11 August and have set up a Faslane Peace Camp outside the base.

Security at the base has been stepped up for the duration of the campaign, which is the first phase of the peace activists' programme to disarm the missiles.

There have been nearly 70 arrests since the campaign began. It ends on 25 August.

Origins of Ploughshares

The Ploughshares were founded in America in the 1970s as a "confrontational but non-violent" anti-nuclear and anti-arms group.

Its members have been involved in actions which include the disablement of a Hawk military aircraft in 1996 which was destined for East Timor.

The Faslane base has been the target of anti-nuclear campaigners ever since the decision in the 1970s to replace Britain's Polaris fleet with Tridents.

Protesters have periodically managed to penetrate the outer fence. On one occasion, they got inside a berthed Polaris submarine.

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