THE author of a new book which strongly criticises U2 frontman Bono has hit back at negative responses he’s received since its publication in Ireland.
Journalist and author Harry Browne said the Irish media’s reaction to The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power) has been “hostile” and “hysterical” following its release earlier this month.
The book, published to coincide with the G8 summit, takes issue with Bono on a number of levels including his attempts to deal with aids in Africa and global poverty.
Browne also attacks U2’s decision to move their publishing arm to the Netherlands in order to pay less tax and the frontman’s close relationship to George Bush and Tony Blair around the time of the Iraq War.
Speaking to The Irish Post, Browne commented that he felt the reaction in Ireland “has been funny, it’s also been predictable.”
The Dublin-based writer also responded to criticism from former Irish presidential candidate, Adi Roach.
Roach, a close friend of Bono and his wife Ali Hewson, had called the book “shameful” and defended Bono’s record on human rights and justice.
Reacting to Roach’s criticism, Browne said: “I’m sorry she did, of course, and I’m particularly sorry that anyone did without reading the book.”
Browne said he had a lot of respect for Roach and for Bono. “At the same time, it’s loyalty to a friend and I wouldn’t criticise her,” he added.
Speaking at an event held at Rough Trade East in London last Friday, the author reiterated claims made in the book that Bono’s mission to tackle global poverty had failed.
“I think that things have got worse and Bono is part of a system that makes it worse,” said Browne.
He said governments should follow proven models in decreasing poverty, such as the Latin American model, and backed grass-roots activism over the “celebrity activism” of Bono and other world figures.
On the band’s tax affairs, the author claimed that U2 practiced “aggressive tax avoidance”.
Browne also attacked Ireland’s Minister for Social Protection, TD Joan Burton’s recent criticism of the band’s tax affairs, saying, “[she should be] checking out what her government is doing to make sure no corporation can do this; not just having a go at U2.”