Gardaí arrest four after Blair faces barrage of abuse

Gardaí arrest four after Blair faces barrage of abuse

Tony Blair faced a barrage of abuse today as he was confronted by anti-war protesters at his first book signing.

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

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

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

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

Four men - all in their twenties and thirties - were arrested, charged and released and are due in court later this month.

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 gardaí 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.

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 County 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.

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