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Last Updated: Monday, 12 April, 2004, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
MSPs join Faslane peace protest
Faslane CND protesters
Peace protesters marched to a rally at Faslane's north gate
Leading politicians have joined peace protesters in a demonstration outside the Trident nuclear weapons submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde.

They spoke to more than 200 campaigners at a rally outside the base at about 1430 BST on Easter Monday.

Scottish National Party Leader John Swinney and Green MSP Chris Ballance took part.

Both condemned the presence of nuclear missiles at the naval base.

Nuclear fears

The once-traditional Easter Monday demo was been resurrected by Scottish CND to coincide with a new anti-Trident campaign by British CND.

The organisation fears the possibility of the UK joining the US in building a new generation of nuclear weapons, the current expansion of facilities at Aldermaston and its recruitment of new scientists.

These weapons are dinosaurs of a previous age, they've actually been useless for the last 50-60 years, they're completely redundant
Chris Ballance
Green MSP

The protest started with a march from the Faslane Peace Camp at 1300BST to coincide with a similar event staged at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire.

The Scottish march ended at Faslane's north gate where activists attached banners with anti-nuclear slogans to fences and gates before the speakers took to a makeshift platform.

'Incongruous message'

Mr Swinney said: "I have joined in many protests before at this base but this year we have a situation where we are concerned about the issues of WMD in all sorts of countries.

"It's dominated the political landscape over the last two years and was pivotal in terms of the decision to go to war in Iraq.

"And yet here we are, possessing WMDs 15 miles down the road from the largest city in Scotland.

"To me that seems an incongruous message so we are here to remedy that."

Green MSP Mr Ballance said: "We came here because we care passionately when the Government does something immoral and illegal that ordinary citizens have to do something about it.

"We are told that the war of today is the war against terrorism.

"What the hell use is a nuclear submarine against a terrorist or against a suicide bomber?

"These weapons are dinosaurs of a previous age, they've actually been useless for the last 50-60 years, they're completely redundant."

Scottish CND chair Alan Mackinnon said it was the first time the organisation had staged an Easter march in a decade.

He said: "We heard so much about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and Libya's when they didn't even have any.

"But here we have nearly 180 warheads which is enough to destroy half the world and create a nuclear winter, so we're here to highlight that hypocrisy."

'Monstrous lies'

He added that with Iraq on the brink of anarchy Tony Blair and George Bush were reaping the whirlwind of their "monstrous lie" about WMDs.

He said: "Iraq today is a classic testament to the greed and folly of Bush and Blair, the banks, the oil companies and arms manufacturers.

"And all for what? Weapons of mass destruction, we were told.

"That was a monstrous lie that was perpetrated against the British people and the parliament that now threatens the presidency of George Bush and the premiership of Tony Blair himself.

"If Tony Blair really wants to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction then he should start right here."

BBC Scotland's Gillian Millar
"They took their message to their message to the heavily guarded gates of Faslane"

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