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Archive for Sunday, September 5, 2010

Protesters chuck shoes, eggs at Blair

September 5, 2010

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— Protesters hurled shoes and eggs Saturday at Tony Blair who held the first public signing of his memoir amid high security in Ireland’s capital. Hundreds more people lined up to have their books autographed — evidence that the divisions left by Blair’s decade as British leader have yet to heal.

Blair’s new book, “A Journey,” is a best-seller, but it has angered opponents of his policies, especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

About 200 demonstrators chanted that Blair had “blood on his hands” as the former prime minister arrived at a Dublin bookstore. Shoes, eggs and other projectiles were thrown toward Blair as he emerged from a car, but did not hit him. A flip-flop could be seen lying on the roof of a BMW in Blair’s motorcade.

Security was tight, with book buyers — who appeared to outnumber the protesters by about two to one — told to hand over bags and mobile phones before entering Eason’s bookstore on O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare.

There were scuffles between police and demonstrators when some tried to force their way through the security cordon. Two protesters were bundled into the back of a security van. Several demonstrators, including one wheelchair user, laid themselves in the van’s path, and riot police were brought in to remove them.

Police said four men were arrested and charged with public order offenses.

Blair spent about two hours in the store before emerging to more shouts, boos and hurled eggs. He was quickly driven away, as a police helicopter circled overhead.

“Blair took the world to war in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of lies,” protester Donal MacFhearraigh said. He said Blair should be indicted as a war criminal.

Another protester, 24-year-old Kate O’Sullivan, said she was taken away by security guards after approaching Blair in the store and trying to perform a citizen’s arrest.

Confrontation erupted again once Blair had left, as police stopped demonstrators from entering the bookstore. Many of the demonstrators then marched to the police station where those arrested were being held to continue their protest there.

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