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COMMENT: I'm really sick and tired of all the U2 haters

Monday, 31st July, 2017 7:57am
COMMENT: I'm really sick and tired of all the U2 haters

Comment: Darren Kinsella

COMMENT: I'm really sick and tired of all the U2 haters

Comment: Darren Kinsella

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OVER the last two weeks, we’ve been bombarded with all things U2. Newspapers, social media and online sites were filled with everything related to the band in the lead up to and following on from their sellout Croke Park show. 

But when you look through the comments sections of many of the online news sites, inevitably you will find an abundance of Bono bashers. 

I’ve been a U2 fan all my life. I was one of the many people who was at the last Joshua Tree concert in 1987 and was fortunate enough to be at the most recent Dublin show. 

In my professional capacity as a photographer, I have had the privilege of  meeting Bono on a number of occasions. When I worked on a book about famous Finglas people in 2012, a joint venture with RTÉ journalist Samantha Libreri, Bono was incredibly generous with his time, famously posing for me by stretching out across a couch backstage at the ‘Late Late Show’. On every occasion, I have found him to be decent to everyone around him.

I am proud of U2 and the fact they are from Ireland. They fly the Irish flag wherever they go. But yet, so many people seem to have a problem with them and feel the need to have a go at every opportunity. 

The one thing that comes up again and again is the issue of the tax that they pay in Ireland. ‘Tax avoiders’ is just one of the more charitable terms used by keyboard warriors, a reference to the fact that one of U2’s many companies moved to the Netherlands in 2006 in response to a cap on tax breaks for artists in the Republic of Ireland.

But before you rush to judgement, answer this question for me. You work and you pay your due taxes here, right? If your company’s accountant came to you and said that they were going to move a small part of the business to another European country (and by doing so you’d pay less tax and increase your monthly take home pay), would you say: "Ah no, that’s not right, I want to continue to pay my current level of tax to the Irish State; it’s my duty." 

Not likely. So why does everyone think that U2 should? Just because they’re rich? U2 could easily join many others and become tax exiles, given the amount of time they spend outside the country. But they choose to base themselves and many of their businesses here. They employ a lot of people in Ireland and their recent Croke Park concert contributed €12m to the Dublin economy. Bono is also said to have played a part in bringing Google and Facebook to Dublin. 

Yet the begrudgers will criticise the fact that he uses his celebrity status to help the sick and dying in poor and war-torn countries and claim he does nothing for the poor here. I strongly suspect that U2 do contribute to the less well off in Ireland. Who knew that George Michael secretly donated millions to charity?

Despite being constantly in the spotlight, U2 are very private. Perhaps some day, all the haters will come to understand the true value of their contribution to this country.

Darren Kinsella is a photographer with Dublin People.

Photographer Darren Kinsella and Bono share a drink at the the Clarence Hotel in 2003. PHOTO: JON DARDIS

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