Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Stop picking on the rich - U2 drummer Larry Mullen

U2 drummer Larry Mullen believes rich and successful people are being unnecessarily humiliated when coming in and out of Ireland, describing this as "part of a new resentment of rich people in this country".

"We have experienced [a situation] where coming in and out of the country at certain times is made more difficult than it should be -- not only for us, but for a lot of wealthy people," he said. "So it wasn't personal. It was to do with the better-off being sort of humiliated."

Mullen was speaking in Howth the day before the Sunday Independent exclusively joined U2 in Barcelona last week as they convened for final rehearsals for their world tour and to see for the first time the phenomenal 360-degree stage they have built.

Exclusive interviews with all four of U2 in this week's Living section

Their current album, No Line On The Horizon, has sold five million copies and is set to be their most successful ever, and most dates on the tour sold out in record time.

"You see guys and they're bringing a huge amount of money into this country and they do not deserve to be humiliated. Humiliate me, I can deal with it. I can kind of understand maybe a rock and roll band. Fine, OK, I can live with that. But when I heard and saw Dermot Desmond coming in with his family, what a thing to have done with him. He brought huge amounts of money into the country."

When asked if this nastiness had made him think of leaving his beloved Howth, Mullen said: "I certainly thought that if... if this is what they experience, how can I tell people, how can I fly the Irish flag and tell people 'come to Ireland because it's great'?

"And I just think it is so, so Paddy, it's like Paddywhackery, you know you're going to get the guy -- what is all that about? Because we are so beyond that."

Mullen also praised the entrepreneurial and developer classes for their charity work and for all they have done for the country.

"Love them or loathe them, all those rich wives, all those rich guys with all those balls, all those women that you see organising this and organising that, without them we'd be in a very, very different state than we are now.

"A lot of people who are well off in this country make huge contributions with their time and with their money."

He also expressed his sympathy for restaurateur, Town Bar and Grill owner Ronan Ryan, after the recent Liveline programme, saying he had heard it while he was in and out of the shower. "He got eaten alive," he said.

Speaking of restaurateur Jay Bourke's admission he would be forced to close Eden in Temple Bar unless the Government got real on rent, Mullen said: "It's my favourite restaurant. I love that restaurant. It's been consistent and I'll be broken-hearted if that goes down."

Other members of the band also expressed concern that this was becoming a difficult country for entrepreneurs.

Adam Clayton, whose sister has lost her job due to the downturn, thought we needed better governance and support for entrepreneurs, while Bono cautioned against Irish people becoming "sour".

"Melancholy and bile are not our greatest traits," said the singer.

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