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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Churches unite to 'end Trident'
Anti-trident campaigners on the march
Marchers are calling for an end to Trident nuclear weapons in Scotland
A cross-country protest march against replacing the Trident nuclear weapon system has got under way.

Up to 100 campaigners, including senior church officials and peace campaigners, set off from Faslane Naval Base in Argyll and Bute on Thursday.

The military base is home to Trident, which is up for replacement or upgrade at a cost of billions of pounds.

The marchers are undertaking an 85-mile walk to the Scottish Parliament so they can make their views known to MSPs.

At First Minister's Questions on Thursday Jack McConnell came under fire over his views on nuclear weapons.

For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian today
Rt Rev Alan McDonald

The UK Government will decide whether to renew Trident in the coming months.

The SNP's Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon called on Mr McConnell to declare where he stood on the issue and not to "hedge his bets".

Churchmen, including Kirk moderator Rt Rev Alan McDonald, set out from the gates of the Trident submarine base on the Clyde.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Mario Conti and Cardinal Keith O'Brien will also take part in the march before it reaches the parliament on Tuesday.

Mr McDonald has been criticised by some in the church, who said he does not speak for them on such a controversial issue.

Glasgow rally

The moderator, who has attended a number of demonstrations at Faslane over the years, said the statistics about Trident were "chilling".

He said: "Each Trident submarine can carry the equivalent of 750 Hiroshima atom bombs.

"The potential for the indiscriminate destruction of countless men, women and children is almost beyond belief.

"For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian today."

Scottish CND co-ordinator John Ainslie added: "We are concerned that the government will announce later this year the plan to keep nuclear weapons in Scotland for another 40 years.

"We are marching to Scotland's parliament to ask them to take a stand on behalf of the Scottish people to oppose these proposals."

The march, which will be covering 15 miles each day, is set to pass through Glasgow on Saturday for a rally from Blythswood Square to George Square.

The protest against a replacement for Trident

Protesters blockade military base
25 Jul 06 |  Glasgow and West
Whatever happened to CND?
05 Jul 06 |  Magazine
Peace protesters in for long haul
22 Jun 06 |  Scotland
McConnell quizzed on missile plan
22 Jun 06 |  Scotland
Churches in anti-nuclear petition
15 May 06 |  Scotland

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