Faslane nuclear weapons base day-long blockade results in 34 arrests; workers sent home

_82280589_pafrom Scrap Trident Coalition

13th April 2015

The Scrap Trident Coalition has hailed today’s blockade of the UK’s nuclear weapons base at Faslane in Scotland as a huge success after the gates were blocked from 7 am until 13.30 pm and many workers, who had been queued up in buses in nearby Helensburgh, were sent home.

Thirty-four people have been arrested breach of the peace for lying in the gateways, or malicious mischief for painting. At 3pm the protesters still in position relinquished the blockade voluntarily and held a closing ceremony at the base’s north gate.

A Scrap Trident spokesperson said:

“This has been one of the most effective blockades in our experience with so many workers being unable to enter the base and such a relaxed, colourful and upbeat vibe to the whole protest. It has been wonderful to have the presence of people ranging in age from 5 to over 80, to have a member of our own parliament sitting down with us, and so many others from diverse backgrounds.

Trident is a hot topic at the general election and this gives us hope that at last we can tackle the British state’s addiction to monstrous and mindless violence. We are also aware that even among the workers in the base and the police who attended today there is growing support for removing the WMD stain from our shores.”

For more information, go to the Scrap Trident Coalition website here.

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11138560_819148651508887_8106998473308917772_nEarlier report from the BBC, before all arrests were made:

Faslane protest: Campaigners blockade nuclear base

Hundreds of anti-nuclear activists are taking part in a blockade of the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

The Scrap Trident Coalition’s Bairns Not Bombs demonstration aims to shut down the base, which is home to the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system.

Police Scotland confirmed that 15 people had been arrested.

Police estimated that about 200 protestors were taking part in the demonstration as part of a series of events organised by Scrap Trident.

Those attending the event had gathered outside gates to the base from 07:00 in an attempt to stop workers from entering.

The blockade, due to last until 15:00, is aimed at focusing attention on the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the run up to next month’s general election.

Cutting equipment

Organisers said – according to their estimates – there were up to 150 demonstrators outside the north gate, with 250 across all the gates.

Groups of protesters chained themselves together outside the gate ahead of the shift change at the base.

Police have been using cutting equipment to release protestors who blocked the road by chaining themselves together.

BBC Scotland reporter Julie Peacock, who is at the scene, said it was taking approximately 40 minutes, and in one case two and a half hours, to release each person from their chain.

A Scrap Trident spokesman said: “We are delighted that, in spite of a big police presence, people have been able to peacefully and imaginatively shut down the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) base, putting their bodies on the line in their utter rejection of what Trident represents.”

A Faslane spokesman said: “The MoD recognises the democratic right of individuals to participate in lawful and peaceful protest activities.

“The MoD police and Police Scotland are seeking to facilitate safe and peaceful protest activity but any breaches of criminal law will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

He said the operational output of the base was not being affected by the protest as contingency plans had been put in place.

Over the weekend leading figure in music, the arts and science, including Nobel prize winner Prof Peter Higgs, comedian Frankie Boyle and Mercury prizewinning band Young Fathers, called for the nuclear deterrent to be scrapped, in a letter to the Observer.
Thousands attended a march and rally in Glasgow city centre earlier this month to call on the UK government to abandon plans to replace Trident.

The nuclear weapons system came to the fore of the election campaign last week after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed that a Conservative government would go ahead with the construction of four new Trident nuclear missile submarines to replace the existing fleet of ageing Vanguard-class boats.

He warned that the deterrent would be put at risk by the prospect of Labour leader Ed Miliband entering into a pact with the anti-Trident SNP in the event of a hung parliament in May.

Fully committed

Mr Miliband insisted that Labour is fully committed to renewing the Trident submarine missile fleet.

The SNP opposes the principle of nuclear weapons, with leader Nicola Sturgeon having said that halting the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent would be her “absolute priority” if her party held the balance of power in May.

The Scottish Greens – whose co-convener Patrick Harvie was taking part in the demonstration – also wants the UK’s nuclear weapons scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have said it is “extremely expensive and unnecessary” to replace all four Trident submarines and have proposed a fewer number of vessels instead, which would only be deployed under increased threat from a nuclear-armed country, as opposed to being permanently on patrol.