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"We're not a Wave. We're not part of anything, we're part of ourselves." — Bono

Bono lauds our role in leading the fight against world hunger but hits out at 'churlish' tax critics

Bono was back on the campaigning trail yesterday.

And he took the opportunity to sing the praises of under-pressure Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, saying the Government has championed the campaign to put world hunger at the top of the global agenda.

But the rock star also dismissed as "churlish" the critics who claimed that U2's campaigning credentials had been seriously undermined by the transfer of part of their music operations from Ireland to the Netherlands for tax reasons.

"Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't ask anyone to do something that I am not prepared to do myself," Bono said.

"The increases in aid we are asking for are like 0.2pc -- I am not sure that anyone seriously thinks that I am not, or that U2 are not, up to that.


"Our tax has always been not just to the letter of the law but to the spirit of the law. This country's prosperity came out of tax innovation so it would be sort of churlish to criticise U2 for doing what we were encouraged to do and what brought all these companies to Ireland in the first place."

The U2 singer paid glowing tribute to Mr. Ahern, Finance Minister Brian Cowen, and former Junior Minister Liz O'Donnell, for their courageous stance on development aid as he attended the second meeting of the Hunger Taskforce in University College Cork (UCC).

Hundreds of students cheered the U2 star as he gave a press conference on the college lawn.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Bono said that Ireland is now leading the way in devoting record amounts of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Third World development aid.

Ireland is now set to allocate more than 800m in revenues to such projects in 2007/2008.

"World hunger is an anachronism of modern history -- it is a (poor) indicator of our spiritual well-being that there are people starving and hungry in the 21st century.

"Strangely global resources have not been applied in that direction -- global health, AIDS, malaria and things I have worked on have gained precedence.

"But there is something poetic about Ireland leading on world hunger because of our history. I am very proud of the Irish Government on this -- Bertie, Brian Cowen and Liz O'Donnell before that.

"It makes me very proud as an actor who goes out into the international arena to try and raise funds from governments that our Government is (already) there.

"There is something also very poetic about being on this (UCC) campus and in this room which was built at the time of the Famine as a public works programme to give jobs to the local community. It is in the background, the Famine thing, but we don't want to milk it.

"It is part of who we are, the Irish. I do think we have an unique role to play in tackling world hunger.

"What I will try to do is (beat) the war drums. Other people watching or listening to this must then decide if it should be a priority."

The U2 star said the world's consciousness has come a long way since the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s which first shocked stars into involvement in devel-opmental campaigns.

"There is an incredible amount of Irish Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) getting stuck in all around the developing world.

"Everywhere you go in Africa there is Irish. What used to be priests and nuns jumping out from behind bushes is now NGOs, activists. It says a lot about who we are as a people, about the fact that we haven't completely forgotten about where we came from."

© Independent.ie, 2007.