Protests planned as ‘war criminal’ visits

A number of progressive and republican organisations are to hold a protest in Dublin this weekend as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair signs copies of his autobiography.

Mr Blair will attend a book signing for the launch of his memoirs, ‘A Journey’, at Easons shop on O’Connell Street on Saturday and will appear on the Late Late Show television appearance on Friday night

In the book, Mr Blair admits that he lied in order to secure the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. However, he describes Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness as an “extraordinary couple” adding that, over time, “I came to like both greatly, probably more than I should have, if truth be told”.

He also praises the now-disgraced former 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for his role in the peace process, describing him as “one of my favourite political leaders”.

In addition, he admits that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction when the US and Britain invaded in 2003 and accepts responsibility for the mistakes made in the invasion and subsequent occupation.

Republican Network for Unity (RNU) Chairperson Danny McBrearty described Blair as an “imperialist war criminal” who should not be welcome in Ireland to promote his new book.

“RNU’s opposition stem from Blair’s responsibility in the brutal deaths of over one million people resulting from his imperialistic conquests of Afghanistan and Iraq and his justification of Britain’s protracted denial of Irish national sovereignty.

“We would like to make it clear to fellow citizens that finance raised through sales of this book will be made available to the British Crown Forces, complicit in the occupation of Six Irish Counties’.

Members of the Irish Anti-War Movement will also gather outside the bookshop at 9.30am to highlight Mr Blair’s role in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The protest will include speakers from Iraq and Afghanistan and a wide range of anti-war and Palestinian solidarity groups, as well as a display of giant posters depicting Mr Blair as a war criminal.

“Maybe as many as a million Iraqis are dead as a result of the war launched by Blair and Bush,” said Movement chairman Richard Boyd Barrett.

“Millions more have been maimed or made refugees, and the infrastructure of Iraqi society has been utterly devastated,” he said.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said Mr Blair is welcome to Ireland because of the role he played in the Northern Ireland peace process.

“That said, he and his government were very wrong about Iraq,” he added.

Mr Gilmore said it was the view of the Labour Party that the Iraq war was an illegal war and should not have happened. “There weren’t weapons of mass destruction and there were other means other than going to war which were open to countries at that time.”

eirigi said Blair should be arrested “and put before the International Criminal Court.”

“In Afghanistan, casualties continue to mount as the occupation and slaughter of civilians continues. Blair’s justifications for these invasions are a tissue of lies and deceit,” said eirigi spokesperson Daithi Mac An Mhaistir.

“His book is an attempt to rewrite history and justify his role in these illegal wars and the countless war crimes committed by British troops.

“In his time as British prime minister, Blair also oversaw the normalisation of the British occupation in the Six Counties and the murder by pro-British forces of nationalist civilians, including human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson.

“He also blocked all attempts to secure the truth about collusion between British forces and unionist death squads, in particular their role in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.”

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