‘I’m Not Warm And Fuzzy, Get Over It’




On RTÉ’s The Meaning of Life With Gay Byrne last night, Bono spoke to host Gay Byrne about God and his tax arrangements

Essentially, U2 is a business and he’s a tough guy.

And, you know, GET OVER IT.

Gay Byrne: “If I don’t ask you this, I’ll be criticised and if I do ask you this I’ll be criticised but since you’ve touched on the subject now. The subject of U2’s taxation arrangements, whereby people are expressing their wonder at what they call your hypocrisy, not my word, their word, hypocrisy of haranguing us all and asking us to pay for more international aid, at the same time as you shift your company overseas in order to save taxation.”

Bono: “Yeah, but it’s [unintelligible] of Irish people to be critical of this is because the shock horror moment here is U2 behaving like a business. (Fake shock facial and gasp expression). And I mean our, we live in a small rock in the North Atlantic and we would be under water were it not for very clever people working in Government and in the Revenue who made tax competitiveness a central part of Irish economic life.

It is the reason we have companies like, you know, Google and Facebook and, indeed, I helped bring those companies to Ireland. So it’s more than churlish for Irish people to say well we don’t want an Irish company involved in that stuff that we do want everyone else. I mean we do pay a lot of, I want to say, we pay a lot of tax and…but we are, you know, tax sensible. But, as every business is. And why is it because I’m involved in these…some people think as idealistic things but I think as pragmatic things, why can’t U2 be tough in business? This thing of the warm, fuzzy feeling, you know we want you know this…I’d like people to get over that. Because that’s not who I am. I am tough and I may have, you know, I may sing from a very private and intimate place and I make art. But I’m tough-minded and I’m intellectually rigorous, I hope. And, I think U2’s tax business is our own business and I think it’s not just to the letter of the law, it is to the spirit of the law.”

Byrne: “In that context do you think you’re removed from the everyday lives of people in Ireland, especially today?”

Bono: “That must be true.”

Watch here (from 27.40)

102 thoughts on “‘I’m Not Warm And Fuzzy, Get Over It’

      1. Medium Sized C

        No I do that in protest of the fact that they have been making the same album for the last 20 years.

  1. CountChuckula

    You can register your protest against Bobo and U2’s taxation musical chairs by not buying their records. Oh, you’re already doing that…

      1. barbar

        It would be awesome if everyone in Ireland got together and called him Bobo from now on. Make it happen!

  2. Dza

    Everybody in U2’s position would do the exact same thing and try to minimise their tax obligations in a legal way.

    1. Sgt. Bilko

      It’s the taking credit for bringing Google and Facebook to Ireland that’s objectionable.

          1. Blonto

            Correct and right JB. It was Elevation Investments which was set up by McGuinness with some U2 dosh. They invested other peoples money in FB just before it floated. Great timing if they sold quickly.
            The whole U2 tax thing is a non-story.

          2. JB

            Elevation Partners wasn’t set up by McGuinness!

            It’s a run of the mill VC firm which got luck despite some poorly regarded plays (Facebook was very late and Palm – WTF – if HP didn’t pay way over the odds it would have sank).

            Bono is a front man just like GAA stars get their name put over a pub even though someone else is providing the cash


            Elevation Partners was founded by former Silver Lake Partners professionals Roger McNamee and Marc Bodnick, as well as Fred Anderson (Apple Inc.) and John Riccitiello (Electronic Arts).
            Elevation is perhaps best known for its association with Bono, lead singer of the musical group U2, who joined the company shortly after its creation in 2004.[1] The firm is named after U2’s song “Elevation”.

        1. JB

          ,”one source told the Independent.” – and by one source I mean Bono’s PR people!

          How gullible are you people?

    2. rapchinations

      true but i wouldnt spend my time preaching to people who are already skint that they should be giving more to the poor

    3. John

      It’s demanding government act on Africa when any aid comes from the exchequer and thus requires taxes to be paid. He’s a sanctimonious hypocrite who obfuscates his own unethical financial practices whilst preaching to the world.

  3. Medium Sized C

    Yeah, google etc move here, hire loads of people all of whom pay tax, and google pay corporation tax. So the state gets loads of tax because Google etc are here.

    And what exactly did he do to bring Google to Ireland?

      1. JB

        “close to” – bwahhh

        Like Bill Clinton and his 10,000 close friends so.

        You can’t prove a negative and Bono knows it

      2. JB

        ”one source told the Independent.” – and by one source I mean Bono’s PR people!

        How gullible are you people?

        1. IDB

          And if you play a “key role” in creating jobs, you are no longer obliged to pay taxes?
          Is that how it works?

    1. cluster

      Gay is definitely more boring than Bono.

      The response here suggests that, for good or for ill, Bono commands a fair amount of interest.

  4. barry

    Tax is just for the little people. Need an lobotomy to get though the full interview with that self righteous pox

  5. Drogg

    Well if this is the case the government and tourist boards should stop using him as an Icon. Also U2 should be stopped from selling themselves as an Irish brand if he isn’t going to give back then he can f**k off. Oh does he realise all the money that he has with drawn from the country could be used to support education.

    Your not tough Bono you are a fat upper class part of the problem with society, who talks about helping africa to hide his own greed.

      1. Drogg

        If you read that article its obvious that he had his own interests at heart not Irelands. He bought up properties around where they would be setting up because prices will go up once google move in and it benefits his tech equity firm. It sounds win, win for bono.

        Also google have most of its staff on short contracts with a constant turn over. It came to a country that had all the graduates it needs and would have had to pay much higher wages in Switzerland.

          1. Drogg

            It seems thats how he sells himself to the rest of the world, as the selfless crusader of the right and good. I’ve never been a U2 fan but when someone needs to up their charitable presents to sell more albums, there is something seriously wrong.

        1. Bejayziz

          and tell me Drogg, do you generally conduct your life with your “own interests at heart not Irelands”….everyone would do the same…I’m denying that Bono is a twat but I would do the exact same, if there is a way of getting taxed less legally then do it!

          1. Drogg

            If i ran my own business i would generally think of the benefits it would give my community especially if i used them to promote myself. U2 are super rich and would also be taxed as artists. Is the money that they would lose by keeping there company here, really going to bother them?

          2. Drogg

            But would the money they would lose to tax really make that much of a difference to him? I bet the people who would benefit from it would find it makes a big difference.

  6. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    “No tune on the horizon ” was an accurate review, unfortunately.

  7. Clampers Outside!

    At least Bonobo didn’t think of himself as a man of the people…. phew. That would have been too much. But I get a bang off Gabriel that he thinks he still is a man of the people.

    Even my septuagenarian parents can’t stand Gabriel’s smarm filled schtick! And if he’s losing that audience, he’s lost everyone… get him off the tele.

    That said, can we move on from calling Bonobo a pox now?

    1. Medium Sized C

      Be nice.
      The man is trying to earn a crust.

      He has lost his financial bollox more times than you have had hot dinners.

  8. Medium Sized C

    While we are here…. That last question in the transcription….
    Bono is a feckin millionaire, how the hell is he not “removed from the everyday lives of Irish people”?

    And none of this excuses his bollox talking in music Documentaries.

  9. mauriac

    What a giant ignoranus ! “a small rock in the north Atlantic that would be underwater”,were it not for ,”the clever people” in revenue and the department of finance !! As Harry Browne makes clear in his book Bobo is merely a super rich shill for corporate power whose “solutions” for Africa (and it seems Ireland) are part of the problem of global injustice.
    I’d rather take an acid bath than click on that link.
    Now off to fulminate …

    1. Am I still on This Island

      Ignoramus really?? says the poster that does not want to read a link that may give them an alternative view or broaden their knowledge base. Delicious Irony for one

  10. Daveq

    The thing that sickens me about the man they call Bono is that they benefitted greatly from the artist’s tax exemption. They didn’t pay any income tax at all in this country. And then as soon as the Government capped the artist’s tax relief at €250,000 they moved to Holland. That”s still €250,000 a year they could have claimed tax free. In effect this state and it’s tax payers financially supported the development of U2. Then as soon as they were asked to pay their share they pissed off. The Artist tax break scheme was set up (by Charlie Haughey) to support most artists who are broke and earn about €15k a year not multi millionaire rock stars.
    I think we should refer to him as Van Der Bono from now to reflect his Dutch tax status.

  11. Derval

    Everyone who isn’t a billionaire seems to know what they would do if they were a billionaire.

  12. Eric T

    Seriously, I’m worried about the lack of Helen.

    Should we split up, take a walk around the estate shouting “Bono paid his tax in a completely legitimate manner” and meet back here in half an hour?

  13. Bono's sunglasses

    As a serious fan of their music..I think they are a brilliantly innovative and a fantastic live band…I am disappointed that Bono and Co. do not pay their share of tax as it makes a lot of his political poverty posturing very hard to take.

      1. scottser

        i’ve been a drummer for 20-odd years and i wouldn’t crticise mullen’s playing ever. you hear bands ‘try’ to do u2 songs but they rarely come close. a little credit where it’s due..

        1. Gav D

          Fair enough. I’ve played drums about the same time myself. Its not bog standard, I’ll grant you; but its not “brilliantly innovative” by a long margin.

      2. Niafall

        They must be innovative “as a business”, as Hewson would have it. They’ve been selling the same porridge for three decades.

    1. gerrys30klasertherapist

      very good, have you ever seen their sketch on The swollen blood when they were stuck in Japan at the world cup? Can’t ever find it on youtube??

  14. Kelly's Blocked Drain

    Bono is a singer with a Band called U2. They are quite famous.
    Some of them are from Dublin but others are from elsewhere.
    They all make lots of money and have clever people employed to mind it for them. Sometimes Bono goes on TV and talks about things like politics and economics.
    This annoys people because nobody likes a successful Irish person telling us what to do, especially when it’s outside his main area of work (stadium Rock in this case)
    We get more annoyed when he is refereed to as being British however.
    Everyone in Ireland will love Bono when he is eventually dead. This is because we will only have Niall Horan & Bressie left then. They probably aren’t as good as Bono.

    1. martco

      best post IMO but you forgot to add:
      “Every so often they announce a tour and include Dublin in the schedule with relatively cheap tickets which are sold out in minutes and bought by many people who will say “ya I hate U2….but….aah but shure you can’t beat a bit of U2 tho can you?”

      1. Niafall

        I wouldn’t go and see them if they were playing down the garden. U2, bressie and the other lad all belong to the same class of talentless cheese purveyance.

        Britain can have em. Most deaths are not to be celebrated, but his won’t change the fact that they’ve made a career of pumping out the same nad-less schlock.

        1. martco

          art is subjective Niafall, I for example wouldn’t write U2 on the same sheet of paper as this bressie…..
          Your musical tastes (if you listed them out here) might not agree with the next citizens’ but I think what you’ve written above there is just plain incorrect. Talentless? Schlock? you sure you understand those terms? understand English? try Wikipedia

          1. Niafall

            The question is not relating to any one person’s specific tastes. I listen to a wide variety of music, and can generally find common ground in taste with any given person.

            Talent suggests an ability of a superior quality. U2’s musicianship is passable, their song writing bland. There is nothing superior about the quality of the inane, carbon-copy cheese they inflict upon the world album after album.

            Excreting a back catalogue of “art” which is repetitive flies in the face of what art/aesthetics is all about. As opposed to an act of discovery/learning/reflection/expression, this repetitive act is akin to the mass manufacture of low quality goods: Schlock if you will.

          2. Derval

            Your opinion of the quality of U2’s music is the correct opinion in your opinion.
            Your opinion of what art/aesthetics is all about is the correct opinion in your opinion.

          3. martco

            (I’m not their greatest fan) but I completely disagree with what you say…HOWEVER I suppose that’s one of those great things about music, isn’t it?! My 13 year old is playing electric now, he listens to and is inspired by everything from SLF to The Monkees including Dave Evans’ talents with a computer….think about it. Are you really telling me that he’s not talented? Not talented because he isn’t Gary Moore? Or not talented because he uses computers?
            I’m not really sure what you’re trying to express here but you use a lot of negative language in your response….I get it, you don’t like U2 but some people DO just like them just like some people like Johnny Cash and I would say it’s not your job to convince them not to but maybe you feel differently. But by all reasonable definition I really don’t think you could accuse them or being talentless or guilty of producing schlock…hardly carbon copy really either, sure ffs they are one of the best proponents of reinvention around (which is WHY they are still around)

          4. Niafall

            There must be a limit to the amount of replies which can be piled upon a comment. I’m not sure what your point is regarding your son, Martco. His wide range of influences will have little bearing on his talent, as defined as “an ability of superior quality”. Nor will his preference for using computers. Listing his influences and/or instrument of choice in fact tells me nothing about his talent. And none of this tells me exactly what U2 do to demonstrate talent. What talent do U2 show? Bono is a loud singer who is opinionated. The edge is possibly a better singer than Bono, but not an amazingly talented guitarist who shows little variety or imagination in his playing. Clayton could be replaced by any semi-conscious bass player. And Larry Mullen, arguably the most talented member of the band, is no John Bonham now is he.

            And how in the name of god are they proponents of re-invention? David Bowie for example is often cited as a master of re-invention due to his drastic changes in image and musical style from album to album. Miles Davis, Radiohead, Bob Dylan all drastically re-invented themselves in order to stoke their passion for what they did (often alienating firm supporters in the process). But U2? Are you referring to “Pop” or “Achtung Baby”? Because those stylistic iterations were both very familiar and a long time ago.

          5. Niafall

            By “most talented”, given the “look it up in wikipedia” nature of the debate, I of course meant “most competent”.

          6. martco

            maybe my grammar was bad, I wasn’t intending to refer to my son, I was referring to Dave Evans

  15. ReproBertie

    I liked the comment he had about if he hadn’t followed his dreams (or whatever it was) he’d have ended up sitting on a barstool, bitter and moaning about a guy like him. Wine turned to vinegar.

    Respect to the guy. He could sit back on his millions and not give a fiddler’s about anyone or anything but he actually tries to make a difference despite the constant abuse he gets for it. Not just on the Drop the Debt thing but on other things like donating the profits from U2’s Irish gigs to a charity that provides funding for structured music education across Ireland.

  16. Bingo

    He wasn’t born into money. He went out and earned it. Music went from love/hobby to a business a long time ago and he/his people made smart (and legal) business decisions. What’s the problem with this? Yeah, he can be a bit of an arse at times but wouldn’t you if you’ve been a rock star for the last 35 years???

  17. Mike Baldwin

    As a foot note. Quite surprising how many folks rush to judgement here. Personally, I pay a shit load of income tax, and, I use that term advisedly, with a mind to being censored. I don’t give a f**k. The pertinent point is that I have no ‘real’ clue where that (my) money is being directed, spent, wasted, siphoned, appropriated. Bono and the firm are being sagacious with regard to their liabilities, more-so, Paul Mc has learnt his trade through the U2 machine and one would be a moron to hire a guy who did NOT minimise one’s exposure. Now, with an incorporated firm…jesus folks – many vehicles exist. Bono, to my knowledge, does not parade around the arnage or med in a Veyron, snorting off hookers decolletages.So. Where is the cash?? (he’s saving). I strongly suspect he’ll follow the lead of his (known) friend, Bill Gates, and ultimately distribute the accumulative rather than run the risk of seeing a monstrous % of income go the RevComm, spent in a manner with no controls, influence or discernible return by some 23 year old B’comms who’ve never had wider experience. I’d rather the U2/Bono estate goes to something a little more worthwhile than zombie banks – maybe that is what he’s thinking?. His kids are not treated like f’n Hiltons so ask where the savings (on tax) are going..? #irishbegrudgery

  18. Ciarán

    Too right on the Irish begrudgery. There are a load of really wealthy Irish people who don’t pay income tax. To the best of my knowledge Bono does, whereas U2 as a company doesn’t. Everyone had a problem with him before, it’s just a happy coincidence that he gave them a reason. Why don’t we give out about the billionaires who do it more? Or the fact that a lot of them bribed ministers on the way?

    Ireland’s crammed from corner to corner with ‘furious’ people who when it comes to it are impossible to shift from one of the two main parties. We’re collectively like a furious, diminutive middle-aged man giving out like mad about the neighbours at home and will never actually do anything about it. He’s a hugely successful rock star who clearly does care about poor people and people fucking hate him for it

  19. Ciarán

    Too right on the Irish begrudgery. There are a load of really wealthy Irish people who don’t pay income tax. To the best of my knowledge Bono does, whereas U2 as a company doesn’t. Everyone had a problem with him before, it’s just a happy coincidence that he gave them a reason. Why don’t we give out about the billionaires who do it more? Or the fact that a lot of them bribed ministers on the way?

    Ireland’s crammed from corner to corner with ‘furious’ people who when it comes to it are impossible to shift from one of the two main parties. We’re collectively like a furious, diminutive middle-aged man giving out like mad about the neighbours at home and will never actually do anything about it. He’s a hugely successful rock star who clearly does care about poor people and people hate him for it

  20. But Why?

    There is plenty of information out for anyone who wants to look for anyone who wants to look for it about Bono. His support of voodoo economics, his charity’s finances, his friendships with war criminals and evangelical fanatics. There’s no point in raising awareness of Africa if you support and help prop up many of the same forces that cause the problems in the first place. Bono’s defenders remind me a lot of the clowns who support Lowry and Healy-Rae. Bring up the “good” things about them and ignore the bigger picture and call everyone who disagrees with you a begrudger.

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