Angry protestors hurled plastic bottles and flip-flops at former British prime minister Tony Blair as he arrived at the first public signing of his memoirs in the Irish capital Dublin on Saturday.
More than 200 noisy demonstrators, many chanting slogans criticizing Blair over the 2003 Iraq invasion, had gathered for the event and witnesses said plastic bottles and flip-flops were thrown at him as his motorcade arrived.
None of the objects — also reported to include eggs and shoes — landed near the former prime minister as protestors surged toward a security barrier separating them from him before being repelled by police.
Police said they arrested and charged four people with various public order offenses. The men, two in their late teens and two in their 30s, were released on bail to appear in court later in the month.
One woman, meanwhile, said she tried to make a citizen’s arrest on Blair once he was inside the bookshop where the event was taking place.
“After I went through airport-like security to get to Mr Blair, I told him I was there to make a citizen’s arrest on him for war crimes committed in Iraq,” said Kate O’Sullivan, an activist with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. “Mr. Blair looked down and I was immediately grabbed by five security men and dragged away.”
Blair was signing copies of A Journey, his account of a decade in Downing Street from 1997 to 2007, which was released earlier last week.
In the book, he said he “can’t regret” the decision to go to war in Iraq alongside then-US president George W. Bush, but acknowledged that he did not foresee the “nightmare” that it unleashed.
He will hold another book signing in London on Wednesday, which anti-war activists are also pledging to target.
In Dublin, the demonstrators waved placards with slogans such as “Blair lied, millions died” and “Lock him up for genocide” and chanted amid a heavy police presence.
Part of the city’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street, where the bookshop is located, was sealed off and access inside was tightly controlled.
Several hundred people braved pouring rain to line up at a back entrance to the store in the hope of getting their book signed by Blair.
Killian Kiely, a 21-year-old from south Dublin, was among those who got to meet him.
“I wanted to see him, he is one of the most important leaders of his generation, though there is a lot I would disagree with about his policies,” Kiely said. “I just wanted to see him in the flesh.”
But many hoping to meet Blair were left disappointed when he left after about an hour-and-a-half of signing.
In a live television interview promoting the book on Friday, Blair brushed off the criticism.
“One of the first things that you learn in politics is that those who shout most don’t deserve necessarily to be listened to most,” he said.
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