Several hundred people took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday to demonstrate against the presence of British war criminal Tony Blair in the capital.
The former British prime minister was in Ireland to be fawned upon by the west British establishment on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography, the proceeds of which go to the Royal British Legion. On Friday night, Blair was the guest of honour on the notoriously sycophantic Late, Late Show, while on Saturday, he signed copies of his book for his moronic hangers on in Eason’s on O’Connell Street.
The protests, organised by éirígí and the Irish Anti-War Movement, took place outside Eason’s amid a police presence, which resulted in a number of roads, including Abbey Street and O’Connell Street, being closed to traffic – a major blow for business on a Saturday.
At 10.30am, as Blair arrived on O’Connell Street, the protest surged forward with shouts of “Arrest the War Criminal”. Eggs and shoes were thrown at the man who laid waste to Afghanistan and Iraq in symbolic protest as he was shielded by members of the Gardaí and private security using umbrellas.
At this point, the Gardaí turned violent and drew their batons on peaceful protesters, including members of éirígí, while others threatened to use pepper spray. Protestors responded to the onslaught with chants of Gardaí-RUC, which was appropriate given Blair’s decision to let the RUC and British army loose on the people of the Garvaghy Road in 1997. As the Gardaí attacked the crowd, they arrested a number of protestors.
These arrests lead to an impromptu sit down protest on O’Connell Street, which blocked the route of the Garda vans attempting to ferry one of those arrested to Store Street barracks. Members of the Garda Public Order Unit then attempted to remove people from the road, throwing punches and kicks as they did so.
The protest was not confined to the streets however. A number of anti-war activists attempted to gain access to the book signing by queuing up on Abbey Street amongst the supporters of the war criminal. One protester, Niall Farrell of the Galway Alliance Against War, was forcibly removed from Eason’s for being a “security risk”.
However, Kate O’Sullivan, a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, managed to reach Blair and attempted to make a citizens arrest, citing his record as a war criminal, before being detained by Gardaí and private security without any pretext for over 30 minutes.
At 12.30pm, Blair’s entourage managed, with great difficulty, to spirit him away from the angry Dublin crowd, going to the lengths of using a decoy.
Dublin has joined the list of proud cities where Tony Blair will be welcomed with angry voices and marching feet.
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