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U2 tax switch 'in spirit of the law' says Bono

Irish Independent, June 26, 2013
By: Louise Hogan

 

U2 singer Bono has defended the decision to move their publishing arm to the Netherlands for tax reasons -- describing it as simply behaving "like a business".

The band frontman pointed out "clever people" working in the Government and Revenue had made tax competitiveness an integral part of Irish economic life.

"It is the reason we have companies like Google and Facebook," said the 53-year-old in a wide-ranging interview for the The Meaning Of Life programme with broadcaster Gay Byrne broadcast last night on RTE.

"So it is more than churlish for Irish people to say well we don't want an Irish company involved in that stuff, but we do want everyone else," he said over the criticism of the band's tax affairs. Bono explained the band paid a lot of tax in Ireland but like all businesses remained "tax sensible".

He queried why his humanitarian work meant U2 could not be tough in business. "I think U2's tax business is our own business and I think it is not just to the letter of the law but to the spirit of the law," he said.

In a rare in-depth interview, the Dalkey-based family man opened up about his religious faith, his father's death and meeting his wife Ali Hewson.

Bono said he "probably must be" removed from the ordinary everyday lives of people in the present economic times, but pointed out he didn't feel removed, and his children did attend a regular non-fee paying school.

He divulged how he had been at "loggerheads" with his father, Bob, during his teenage years but later had an "epiphany" and realised he was doing his best.

It was a fellow Dublin-man Bob Geldof who helped him on his humanitarian path when he asked him to take part in Live Aid in 1985 to help raise money for Ethiopia. "I owe Bob big time for turning my life upside down," he said.

Bono said he tried to reach out to all sides, including the left and right wing in his activism work. "I was very happy to spend time with George Bush as I am with President Hollande of France," he added.

He displayed a 'crooked cross' that hangs around his neck, which he revealed was a gift from Pope John Paul II, who had "moved" him.

The songwriter revealed that penning songs was to him like a "confession", and he does firmly believe God is "interested in the detail of our lives".

© Independent, 2013.

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