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Bertie pops in on Tony for his free book

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern dropped in on Tony Blair at the Shelbourne Hotel to get a free copy of his memoirs.

The city centre hotel was on lockdown as the two politicians held a short private meeting last night, before Mr Blair's appearance on The Late Late Show.

Mr Ahern was keen to find out exactly what the ex-British Prime Minister wrote about him in the book.

But Mr Ahern wasn't shelling out the €24,99 asking price and was instead spotted leaving the hotel with a specially wrapped hardback copy of Mr Blair's book A Journey .

There was a heavy gardai and security presence around St Stephen's Green amid fears that Mr Blair's overnight stay would attract protesters.


An even larger operation was under way this morning as Mr Blair began his first book signing at Eason's on O'Connell Street.

Mr Blair, who filmed his only live interview with Ryan Tubridy for the Late Late Show last night, showed no signs of anxiety when he was greeted by around 20 anti-war protesters outside the RTE studios. Mr Blair was in a relaxed mood but was forced to borrow a tie from a member of RTE staff after initially deciding to go without.

He flatteringly told Ryan Tubridy that he had donned a tie to look as elegant as the TV presenter.

"Here we go, this is what you do ... " joked Tubridy.

The first 10 minutes of the interview were dedicated to his success with the Northern Peace protest and his impression of Ireland and its politicians.

Mr Blair claimed that he "got on with Bertie extremely well".

In his book, Mr Blair describes Mr Ahern as "one of my favourite political leaders" and a "true friend".

"He was heroic throughout the whole [peace] process, smart, cunning in the best sense, strong and above all, free of the shackles of history.


"That is not to say he had no sense of history; on the contrary, his family had fought the British, had been part of the Easter Uprising, were republicans through and through; but he had that elemental quality that defines great politicians; he was a student of history, not its prisoner," he writes.

Tubridy questioned Mr Blair about his decision to go to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

When he was asked, "Are you a war criminal?" Mr Blair replied "Of course, I don't believe that.

"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. Everyone should be listened to equally, irrespective of the volume of noise."