CAMPAIGNERS supporting a nuclear-free independent Scotland gathered outside Faslane for a rally on Saturday - in defiance of a plea to stay away.

The demonstration against Trident, organised by the All Under One Banner (AUOB) organisation, featured a range of speakers from parties and campaign groups.

AUOB said it was a departure from its usual campaigning to hold a rally on the issue of nuclear weapons, but added the issue was also about what type of country Scotland would be when it becomes independent.

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Campaigners had been urged by the Helensburgh and Lomond area's MSP, Jackie Baillie, not to gather, with Ms Baillie citing public health concerns amid the ongoing rise in Covid cases in the area.

Extra police vehicles were seen in Helensburgh on Saturday afternoon, prior to the start of the Faslane event, but it is understood the rally passed off peacefully.

The demonstration took place between 1pm and 3pm, and the North Gate at Faslane - the main entrance to the base - was closed between 11am and 3.30pm.

Among the speakers was Toni Giugliano, who stood as the SNP's candidate in the Dumbarton constituency - which includes both Faslane and Helensburgh - at the Scottish Parliament election in May, but failed in his bid to unseat Ms Baillie as the area's MSP.

Mr Giugliano told his audience: “I hear the likes of the UK Chancellor – the billionaire UK Chancellor – say that we can’t afford the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

“Let me offer up a suggestion – stop funding redundant nuclear weapons and start investing in the people of our country who need it most.”

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He also urged the Yes movement to work together as it did in 2014.

“Now is the time for us to unite as we did then, to create the nuclear-free independent Scotland we know is possible – and it is up to us to make that happen,” he added.

A spokesperson for All Under One Banner said: “These are weapons of mass destruction, they are indiscriminate, and it is a disgrace that they are sited here in the west of Scotland.

“The Scottish Government do not support nuclear weapons in Scotland, most of the population are opposed to it."

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The organisers of Saturday's event had encouraged protesters to visit the nearby Faslane Peace Camp, but the camp's residents issued a statement on Facebook prior to the event unequivocally distancing the camp from the rally.

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