Belfast Telegraph

Tony Blair pelted with eggs and shoes at Dublin book signing

Tony Blair faced a barrage of abuse today as violence broke out between police and anti-war protesters at his first book signing.

Shoes and eggs were pelted at the former prime minister as he arrived at a Dublin book store to promote his controversial memoir, A Journey.

The missiles did not hit Mr Blair, who was heckled and jeered as he emerged from his car.

Angry activists then clashed with gardai as they tried to push down a security barrier outside the Eason store on Dublin's main thoroughfare O'Connell Street.

One protester managed to confront Mr Blair and attempted to make a citizen's arrest over alleged war crimes.

Undercover detectives mingled with the crowds taking names before Mr Blair arrived at the shop at about 10.30am.

The city tram service was suspended as Gardai blocked off streets surrounding the city centre store.

A number of arrests were made.

Richard Boyd-Barrett, of the Anti-War Movement, accused Mr Blair of making blood money from the memoirs.

"It really is shameful that somebody can be responsible for the death and destruction that he was responsible for in Iraq and Afghanistan and walk away without any accounting for that and become a very wealthy man off the back of it," he said.

Security was tight as up to 300 campaigners carrying flags and banners chanted "arrest the butcher Blair", "hey hey Tony hey, how many kids have you killed today?" and "Tony Blair war criminal".

Hundreds more queued quietly in the rain by a side door to meet Mr Blair, who arrived at about 10.30am - some abused by protesters as they left the store.

Kate O'Sullivan, who attempted to make a citizen's arrest on Mr Blair, said: "Immediately five security people grabbed me, started dragging me off.

"I cried out 'there was half a million people dead in Iraq, how can you live with yourself, you've committed war crimes'."

Undercover detectives earlier mingled with the crowds taking names from known activists before Mr Blair arrived.

Tensions ran high as scores of gardai blocked off half of O'Connell Street and nearby Abbey Street, shutting down the city's tram service. Four riot vans waited nearby.

Shops in the area also closed down, with Penny's department store pulling down its shutters as scuffles broke out.

Just over two hours later Mr Blair left the store and hundreds of protesters booed.

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As his car sped away with a garda escort, line of officers were forced to stand across the glass front of the bookshop to stop angry demonstrators getting in to the building - which is only doors from Dublin's historic GPO, a symbol of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Pensioner Maureen Hedderman who lives in London, but comes from the border county of Monaghan, was among the many supporters in the city.

"I appreciate what he did for Irish politics, particularly along the border, that's why I've come," she added.

Another supporter of Mr Blair, Emily Lynch, praised the politician for playing a huge part in Irish history.

The 22-year-old, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth, said: "He helped make a very important moment in Ireland.

"I remember him coming out and giving a speech on the steps in Belfast in 1998.

"He is only prime minister Irish people can relate to and feel he's on our side, before that there had been nothing like that."

But university lecturer, Kieran Allen, opposed Mr Blair's visit to Ireland.

"Tony Blair is a war criminal," said the University College Dublin sociology lecturer, a member of the Socialist Workers' Party.

"This man has moved on from a legacy of blood from when he was in office to now making 60 million. It's sickening.

"It's also sickening that in Dublin the main transport network, the Luas, has been stopped to facilitate a man who is making money from his war crimes. It's shocking."

Today's event was Mr Blair's first book signing since his memoirs were released this week.

The book tells of his life in politics and has become one of the fastest selling autobiographies on record.

Mr Blair, who gave his first live television interview to RTE last night, was expected to spend about an hour at the store.

Mr Blair said last night the Northern Ireland peace process was one of the few moments in politics that he felt really proud.

Now the Middle East peace envoy, he described watching former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness sitting together publicly for the first time.

"It was just such a strange and extraordinary sight and one of the few times in politics I felt really proud actually," Mr Blair said.

As Mr Blair remained in the shop and signed books for the hundreds who had queued since early this morning the protest continued outside.

About 200 campaigners chanted: "Arrest the butcher Blair" and "Blair Blair Bush's man and blood blood on their hands".

Belfast Telegraph


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