Irish journalist tries to place Blair under citizen's arrest

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AN IRISH journalist has told how he tried to execute a citizen’s arrest in Brussels of former British prime minister Tony Blair over alleged “war crimes”.

David Cronin, a Dubliner who was press spokesman in the late 1990s for then Green MEP Patricia McKenna, said he tried to arrest Mr Blair in the European Parliament on Monday afternoon as he prepared to address a committee on his work as Middle East peace envoy. “I approached him and put my hand on his arm. He looked towards me and I said, ‘Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest’, before I was pushed away by one of the several bodyguards surrounding him. As they pushed me, I shouted, ‘You are guilty of war crimes’,” he said. “My motivation in trying to arrest Blair is entirely based on my contempt for the crimes he has committed and abetted in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and Serbia.”

Cronin works for news agency Inter Press Serviceand is a contributor to the Guardiannewspaper’s website. He has also contributed to the Wall Street Journaland the Sunday Tribuneand for five years was political correspondent for the European Voice,a specialist publication owned by the Economist. He said he was inspired by the “Arrest Blair” campaign led by environmentalist and columnist George Monbiot. The campaign’s website ( www.arrestblair.org ) says attempts to arrest Mr Blair would be “largely symbolic” but would have great political resonance. “It was an entirely peaceful attempt to arrest him. I wasn’t trying to harm the guy,” Cronin said.

Cronin remained in the parliament building but was later refused access to the room where Mr Blair spoke. “When I was on my way out of the building I was followed by three security guards and one of them asked to see my press badge. He took my name.”

Cronin worked for Ms McKenna between 1995 and 1998. He was a member of the Green Party in the early 1990s but withdrew his membership in 1994.

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