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Tony Blair pelted with eggs at book signing in Dublin


4 September 2010 Last updated at 13:34 ET

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Activists clashed with Irish police as they tried to push down a security barrier outside the bookshop

Eggs, bottles and shoes have been thrown at the former prime minister Tony Blair as he attended a book signing in Dublin.

It happened as he arrived at Easons on O’Connell Street in the city to sign copies of his autobiography.

The missiles, which were thrown by anti-war protesters, did not hit Mr Blair.

Four people were arrested as activists clashed with Irish police at a security barrier outside the bookshop.

Around 200 protesters demonstrated at Mr Blair’s role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on one side of the street on Saturday morning.

Continue reading the main story

Analysis

image of Mark Simpson Mark Simpson BBC Ireland Correspondent


Few places in the world can have witnessed such a large security operation for a mere book-signing.

The main street in Dublin city centre was closed for four hours and a ring of steel erected around Easons bookshop to accommodate Tony Blair and his fountain pen.

Most Dubliners looked on in disbelief.

Many wondered about the security bill, at a time when Ireland’s crippled economy needs every euro it can get.

The Blair supporters looking for a signed book were less vocal than the demonstrators – but they easily outnumbered them.

The former British prime minister won the popularity contest. But it came at a price.

On the other side, more than 300 people gathered to get a copy of his book signed.

It was Mr Blair’s first book-signing since the publication of his autobiography.

BBC Northern Ireland reporter Julian O’Neill said one of the activists had managed to get into the book shop.

“We talked to one person who managed to get in the book shop to get her book signed and as Mr Blair was signing her copy she said she wanted to make a citizen’s arrest for war crimes,” he said.

“She said Mr Blair looked a little taken aback but before she knew it she was surrounded by four security personnel who ushered her into the stairwell.”

There was a large police presence in Dublin and O’Connell Street was closed to traffic.

Among those who turned out to see Mr Blair was Emily Lynch, from Termofeckin, County Louth, who praised him for playing a huge part in Irish history.

“He helped make a very important moment in Ireland,” she said.

‘On our side'”I remember him coming out and giving a speech on the steps in Belfast in 1998.

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

Groups represented at the demonstration included the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Coalition and the 32-County Sovereignty Movement.

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

Mr Blair has said he would hand over the reported £4m advance payment for the book plus all royalties to the Royal British Legion.

His memoirs detail his accounts of life in Downing Street, the Iraq war, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America and Princess Diana’s death.

He also wrote about concerns over the amount he was drinking and of his rift with his successor Gordon Brown.

‘Stretched the truth’One of the chapters also deals with his efforts to secEditure peace in Northern Ireland and his relationships with the key political players.

He admitted that he often stretched the truth past breaking point to get agreement during the peace process and he admits that he took horrendous chances with the political parties.

His book, ‘A Journey’ has already become Waterstone’s fastest-selling autobiography ever and shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.

Easons said on Saturday that there had been an “unprecedented demand” for Mr Blair’s autobiography.

Managing director Conor Whelan said: “We have had a huge customer demand for Tony Blair’s book.

“We hold these events in response to our customer demands and they turned out this morning in very large numbers to meet Mr Blair.”

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