340 arrests at protest over Trident nuclear missiles

A British Labour Party MP was among 340 people arrested yesterday during a protest at a base for Trident nuclear missile submarines…

A British Labour Party MP was among 340 people arrested yesterday during a protest at a base for Trident nuclear missile submarines in west Scotland, police said.

Mr George Galloway was detained as anti-nuclear demonstrators attempted to blockade the Faslane naval base on the River Clyde.

Protesters said about 1,000 people had joined the demonstration, but police put the figure at about 500. Officers used power tools to cut through tubing with which protesters had tied themselves together.

A Socialist member of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Tommy Sheridan, was also arrested at the site near Helensburgh, where protesters formed a human chain to try to block the main gates of the base. The demonstrators, among whom were several clergymen, claim the nuclear weapons breach international law because they cannot distinguish between civilian and military targets.

Faslane is home to four Trident submarines, each capable of carrying 16 missiles with a range of up to 6,000 miles.

Before he was led away by police, Mr Sheridan, who represents the city of Glasgow, 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."

The Scottish actor, Sir Sean Connery - best know for playing James Bond - backed the demonstration. In a phone call to the former leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Mr Alex Salmond, Sir Sean said the protest was a "just cause". The demonstration was organised by anti-nuclear weapons group Trident Ploughshares and the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Tim O'Brien adds:

Thirty students from the Republic - including the president of the Union of Students in Ireland, Mr Julian de Spainn - were arrested during the protest at the Faslane naval base yesterday.

According to Mr Eoin O Broin of the Environment Society of the University of Limerick, who was in Faslane, the first wave of arrests took place at about 10 a.m. in which 17 Irish students were arrested.

At midday, protesters who were sitting on the road and who refused to move, were arrested including a further 10 Irish students, while at about 2 p.m. a further wave of arrests included three more Irish students.

Brother Anthony Keane, from Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, was part of the protest. Speaking from Faslane last night, he told The Irish Times that he was probably not arrested as he was standing up "and probably looked a bit more mobile". He said that despite the arrests the Irish contingent had "made a colossal impression" and he added that the success of the protest was that "Tony Blair is being brought to the great court of public opinion to answer charges that he harbours weapons of mass destruction".

A group of demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant yesterday just hours after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began a safety inspection of the Soviet-designed facility.

The CTK news agency reported that about 30 environmentalists occupied the main entrance to the plant for just over an hour around lunch time to protest about technical problems at the plant, which has had operations halted several times in recent months.