Michael O'Doherty: Why I find myself backing Bono against smallminded 'pay your tax' begrudgers
It seems barely credible that after 30 years at the top, U2 still have something to prove. But that was the case as they walked on stage in Glastonbury at 10pm on Friday night.
Firstly, there was a bit of resentment that they had pulled out of their scheduled performance last year. Secondly, the spectre of Spider-Man the Musical is still hanging over them, as the reviews have been somewhat less than unanimously positive. On top of that, it was lashing rain.
Most of all, however, a group of whingeing lefties, delighting in their own small-minded begrudgery under the banner of Art Uncut, were threatening to hijack their performance.
For months, the people behind Art Uncut had been telling anyone willing to listen that they objected to U2's tax affairs, which saw them move their corporate base to Holland in 2006 so as to reduce their tax bill. Art Uncut believe that Bono in particular is guilty of hypocrisy, campaigning against world hunger on the one hand, while not paying what they see as U2's fair share of taxes on the other, especially considering the current plight of Ireland's economy
So about 30 to 50 protesters inflated a giant 20ft balloon with the words "U Pay Your Tax 2" just as U2 came on stage. After 30 seconds or so, security guards moved in and deflated the balloon, scuffling briefly with some of the protesters.
The show went on and U2 were by all accounts magnificent. The audience was ecstatic and the UK musical press, not exactly U2's biggest fans of late, were won over, with words like "memorable" and "thrilling" being used by hard-nosed, cynical hacks.
And as the band started up the final number of their encore -- the first ever single, Out Of Control, written on Bono's 18th birthday 33 years ago -- Bono called out to the crowd "we're a band from Dublin, Ireland."
There aren't many people in the world who don't know that, but U2's obvious pride in it is still something worth reflecting on, and will be remembered long after Art Uncut's slightly pathetic attempts to sabotage the show are long forgotten.
Small-minded, begrudging and probably a tad smelly, the Art Uncut collective completely miss the bigger picture. Because while U2 don't exclusively pay taxes in Ireland, what they contribute to the country is almost incalculable.
Tourism, pride, goodwill... aside from the intangibles, wherever the U2 bandwagon rolls into town, be it here or abroad, it creates excitement, direct employment and massive revenues for the local economy.
And what have the members of Art Uncut ever created in their lives? A 20ft balloon, that's what. They must be so proud of themselves...
C'mon Vogue, don't listen to McFadden
I SEE that Brian McFadden has been phoning Irish PR companies attempting to use some decade-old contacts to get work for his new girlfriend, Vogue Williams.
Well I've a bit of advice for Vogue myself -- pay a bit less attention to Brian and a bit more to Georgia Salpa.
Last week, Vogue was booked to do a photoshoot for an Irish magazine, but pulled out less than 48 hours before, as she preferred the company of McFadden in Australia to turning up for a job that she'd been booked for a long time ago.
Georgia, on the other hand, could be found in a small bar in Naas on Saturday night, for despite her sudden rise up the celebrity ladder, courtesy of her relationship with Calum Best, she has the good manners to honour her commitments.
Not only that, she actually persuaded Calum to turn up with her, delighting both the venue that had booked her, and the revellers who turned up.
So rather than have her new fella try and get her more work in Ireland, perhaps Vogue might learn to turn up for the work that she already has?
That way, she won't have burnt all her bridges by the time she does eventually come home...
Judge Mairead hasn't got a leg to stand on
FOR those who believe that it's a man's world, read on.
Today FM's Mairead Farrell was one of the judges of yesterday's Most Stylish Lady contest at the Dubai Duty Free Derby, and at the launch last week, she revealed her judging criteria.
"I'll be watching out for a well-looked after pair of legs to win an award," she said.
Two years ago, I was part of that same judging panel. And imagine the fuss if I'd come out with that line...
Electric cars? They're just a huge turn-off
WHILE the country was sinking all around them in a Titanic-like manner a year ago, the Greens were busy rearranging the deckchairs.
One of their big ideas was the introduction of electric cars, with Minister Eamon Ryan trumpeting the launch of 'charging points', where you could 'fill-up' your car with power.
Up to 1,500 of these stations are to be rolled out in Ireland by the end of the year, at great expense to the taxpayer.
But of course they will be worthwhile, as thousands of people are guaranteed to immediately change over to electric cars on the back of attractive Government grants.
And two months into the €60m scheme, how many electric cars have been sold? Er, 28...
You can almost hear the rainforests singing with delight.
Aoife's nuptials should rival Brian and Amy's
We love a celebrity wedding in VIP, so I was delighted to read that former Miss Ireland Aoife Cogan (27), and rugby star Gordon D'Arcy (31) have just got engaged.
Aoife represented VIP back in 2005 when she won her crown, and has always been a cut above many models, being not only gorgeous but also smart, funny and a very talented artist. Their wedding day should be one to rival Brian and Amy's.