Forty-seven arrested; Faslane nuclear weapons base shut by protesters for 3 hours

photo by Ric Lander –

from Scrap Trident

Hundreds of people from across the UK, France and as far away as New Zealand converged on Faslane Naval Base in Scotland, homeport to Trident, at 7 a.m. on April 15, blocking all three of its gates and shutting down access, bringing traffic on all roads into the nuclear weapons base to a halt for 3 hours.

Students, pensioners, environmentalists and activists from a dozen campaign groups and political parties laid down in the entrance to the base and locked themselves together with metal and plastic tubes, chains and thumb cuffs. They demanded the UK disarm Trident, fund human needs – welfare, education, pensions, disability benefits, and green jobs – and let Scotland lead the way to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Police used specialist cutting equipment to cut them out before they were able to lift them out of the road.  Forty-seven of the protesters, ranging in age from 19 to 83, were arrested and charged with Breach of the Peace.

Veteran campaigner Caerphilly Labour councillor Ray Davies, 83, who features in Ken Loach’s new film Spirit of ’45, and who has been arrested many times in protests against nuclear weapons, was one of the blockaders arrested today.

Grandmother for Peace Laurie Ross of Christchurch, New Zealand, came to support the Scrap Trident blockade of Faslane before going on to Edinburgh for a meeting of the international nuclear disarmament campaigning network Abolition 2000. She said, “I am here to achieve the nuclear weapons convention for the abolition of nuclear weapons, starting with Scotland.”

Pensioner Roy St Pierre from Lancashire said, “I’ve cycled to Scotland to say that nuclear weapons are morally abhorrent and also to support the Scottish people in making the scrapping of Trident a reality. An independent non-nuclear Scotland would be a beacon to the rest of the world”.
Dominic Lindley, 20, Development Officer with Yorkshire CND, said: “I am taking action to stop the Breach of the Peace committed by the UK by owning and refusing to disarm the weapons of mass destruction. These weapons are both inhumane, illegal and their use can never be justified. In the next few years the UK has an opportunity to join the vast majority of countries in the world by disarming our POINTLESS nuclear weapons and spend the £100 billion wasted on them on vital services for our communities like the NHS, Education and the Welfare State. We cannot work towards a nuclear free world without disarming our own nuclear weapons. We must SCRAP TRIDENT and invest in our local communities.”

Blockader Sara Moon, a Development Officer from Sheffield University, said: “Sheffied University Student Union has a firm commitment to the belief that money should not be spent on funding the arms trade and supporting war but instead be spent on fundamental social goods such as education. It would take a fraction of the cost of the Trident nuclear programme to fund free education for all in the UK. At a time when the worst off in our communities have been stripped of their access to education we have to demand that public money is not wasted on something as unnecessary and devastating as Trident.”

Disability Rights campaigner Susan Archibald of Kelty in Fife, who took part in the protest, said: “I am really pleased that the Scrap Trident coalition is taking a stance to defend disability rights and I hope other organisations and groups will join them. The money saved from scrapping Trident could cushion the blow for everyone affected by welfare reform. So much work is needed now in local communities as the most vulnerable people and their families are under attack by this government.”
Former Netherlands MP and IKV Pax Christi Disarmament campaigner Krista van Velzen said before being arrested, “I’m here witnessing the run up to the first time ever a people have the chance to vote on whether they want to live in a nuclear weapons state. It’s appalling that the UK spends £3Billion per year on weapons of mass destruction, while refugees in Syria struggle even to have a piece of tarp to make a shelter.”

The blockade is one of more than a hundred Global Day of Action on Military Spending protests calling for deep reductions in military spending, and follows a demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday when thousands of protesters called for the government to Scrap Trident.

For more information, see

“Now is the time to scrap Trident!”

Ray Davies, CND Cymru

The singing rose and spread across the perimeter fence at Faslane nuclear submarine base. The military complex is an ugly scar in the middle of the area of stunning natural beauty around Loch Lomond; we had seen the sinister black submarines crawl along the Clyde amongst the pleasure boats.

Heightened tensions in North Korea are threatening  nuclear Armageddon. The continuing financial  crisis makes the economic  argument against Trident even more compelling.  The Scottish National Party has voted to throw out Trident, while Carwyn Jones of the Welsh Assembly has offered to take the poison chalice. The time was ripe to demand that our politicians abandon our nuclear arsenal.

We had started early on the long journey from South Wales up to Kinning Park community centre in Glasgow. Here we met up with many old friends, veteran peace campaigners from around the world; but more important, we met the young people who were prepared to risk their freedom to save our beautiful planet. It was an amazingly diverse group. Amongst them were environmental activists, middle aged housewives, asylum seekers, priests. The workshops included training in nonviolent direct action workshops, legal issues, and of course, singing, led by Protest in Harmony.

At dawn, several coachloads converged on the town of Helensburgh to join the mass blockade of the North and South gates of Faslane. The police were out in full force; but although outnumbered, the protesters were determined to disrupt the deadly work behind the barbed wire perimeter fence. Quickly we filled the road with our bodies, locked together with ingenious devices to make it harder to separate the tangle of legs, arms and bodies. I thought for a moment the police had had a change of heart when one lay down on the road beside a protester, but it was only to see how the locks were attached. Locked on protesters gave interviews with camera crews, played guitar.

The Police Inspector came forward with his loudspeaker, trying to look in charge. But as he began to warn the crowd, his words were drowned out by chants of “Welfare not warfare!”, whistles, drums, and singing – “We shall not, we shall not be moved”. The pompous inspector was met with gales of laughter when he announced  through his megaphone, “This is for your own health and safety”.

“What the hell do you think we are doing here, if it’s not for the safety of our planet”, we responded.

The police experts set to with sophisticated cutting equipment; but as soon as one tube was cut, another protester took their place. The two gates at Faslane were successfully blocked for several hours.

The songs of resistance grew louder. Each time someone was carried away a cheer would arise, and we sang, ” O my brother. O my sister, stand very firm”. It was a moving sight. Those of us who were locked on were joined together, not just with tubes and chains, but in the deep seated belief  that we are on the side of right.
Eventually the last link was cut and we were carried away into the police vans.

The closing ceremony outside the gates was addressed by a number of speakers; A  representative of the disabled activists network drew our attention to the grotesque injustice that, at a time when cuts threaten disabled people with the loss of their dignity, mobility and livelihood , the government wants to develop a new nuclear missile system at a cost of £100 billion.  The action drew to a close with those present even more determined to work towards seeing an end to Trident.

48 were arrested and slowly processed in Greenock and Glasgow police stations: fingerprinted, DNA samples taken, photographs taken.

Very late that evening I was released, and we made our way back down the motorway in the dead of night.

As we left England and entered Wales, my last thought was of the young police officer who said to me after I was charged, “What on earth are you doing shackled on the wet ground at your age, Mr. Davies?”

“Why?” I answered. “The greatest legacy I can leave the world, my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren is a beautiful planet unpoisoned by nuclear radiation. As long as I have breath to sing, to walk, to protest, I will use it for peace, and to make our dream a reality”.