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The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"The protesters failed in their main objective to blockade the base"
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BBC Scotland's Eleanor Bradford reports
"A group of church ministers were read their rights"
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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 08:38 GMT
Politicians arrested at nuclear protest
Police cordon at Faslane
Police attempt to keep protesters away from the gate
Politicians and church ministers were among 379 people arrested during a protest at the home of Britain's Trident nuclear submarine fleet.

Labour MP George Galloway, Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan and Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas were arrested during the demonstration at Faslane.

Mr Galloway, the MP for Glasgow Kelvin and Scottish Socialist Party Leader and Glasgow MSP Mr Sheridan shouted defiance as police removed them from the protest.

We are spending millions on weapons of mass destruction that will never be used

George Galloway MP
Fifteen churchmen were also arrested as demonstrators launched the biggest anti-nuclear protest seen in Scotland since the early 1960s.

A spokesman for Strathclyde Police said it arrested 195 women and 178 men, mainly on breach of the peace charges, while Ministry of Defence Police arrested a further six people.

By Monday night almost all those arrested had been released. They will still be the subject of reports to the procurator fiscal.

Mr Sheridan served five days of a 14-day jail sentence for non-payment of a fine in relation to a demonstration last February.

The latest demonstration, which was designed to close the base for the day, began at 0700GMT and was organised by anti-nuclear weapons group Trident Ploughshares and Scottish CND.

Banners of support

A number of protesters formed a human chain at the north gate entrance to the base at Helensburgh and they were cheered on by crowds on either side of the main gate who waved banners of support.

Before being led away by police, Mr Sheridan, said: "The world is against nuclear weapons and today proves that the time for talking is over and demonstrations throughout the world should start against nuclear weapons."

Mr Galloway said: "We are worried about how to pay for care of the elderly and reducing class sizes in schools.

"However, we are spending millions on weapons of mass destruction that will never be used."

Sheridan and Galloway
Mr Sheridan and George Galloway link arms
Some of the estimated 500 demonstrators unfurled banners at the base, including a red flag and a depiction of a child maimed by nuclear weapons.

Protesters banged on drums, while others chanted slogans.

Police used power tools to cut through tubing which protesters had used to tie themselves together.

They also had to dismantle the costume of a woman dressed as a silver nuclear missile before they could arrest her.

Author Alasdair Gray, who joined CND in 1958, called on MSPs to take action against the presence of nuclear weapons in Scotland.

He said: "Scotland now has her own parliament and hopefully this may lead to something being done about nuclear weapons."

Depth of feeling

Mr Sheridan's wife Gail defended her husband's actions and said: "I have taken the mince out and I will have it ready as he should be home for his tea.

"I am very proud of him and I know he will continue to protest unless these evil weapons are taken away from us."

Scottish National Party MSP Linda Fabiani said the demonstration showed the depth of feeling against nuclear weapons.

A spokeswoman for Faslane said staff were still managing to get into work despite the protest.

She said: "We knew this was going to happen so we made sure we got people onto the site before it started.

"We are managing to get people in and out although both entrances are booked so access is very difficult.

Tommy Sheridan and police van
Tommy Sheridan is led into a police van
"Non essential staff have been advised to stay at home or work from home."

Faslane is home to the four-strong Trident submarine fleet. Each vessel has 16 missile tubes and the weapons are said to be accurate to within 100 yards.

Hundreds have been arrested in previous protests over several years.

Trident Ploughshares predicted that up to 1,000 activists would be present from countries across Europe.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Andrew McLellan, joined the action and took part in an ecumenical service at the protest site.

Mr McLellan said: "I am here to demonstrate the Church of Scotland's long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons in general and Trident in particular.

"I am very impressed with the atmosphere and both the police and the protesters have been both cordial and courteous.

"I am not going to be arrested but some of my best friends have been."

The protesters received a message of support from Sir Sean Connery.

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See also:

12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Fourth Trident ready for service
12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Trident protest in pictures
22 Dec 00 | Scotland
Jailed MSP unrepentant
14 Feb 00 | Scotland
150 held in Trident protest
10 Dec 00 | Scotland
Marines to guard Trident base
09 Oct 00 | Scotland
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