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Rip-off claims over U2 Belfast gigs costing over a third more than band's shows in Dublin






Northern Ireland U2 fans are being charged up to 36% more to see the Belfast leg of the group's hotly-anticipated homecoming gigs.

The rock band are staging six concerts in Ireland in November - two in Belfast and four in Dublin.

The Belfast tour dates will be their first here in nearly 18 years.

But it has emerged that Northern Ireland gig-goers will be hit in the pocket because of the difference between sterling and euro.

The cheapest tickets for U2's dates at Belfast's SSE Arena are £30. Tickets for the gigs in Dublin's 3Arena start at €30 - around £22, or a difference of 36%.

The top-priced tickets are £165 in Belfast and €185 (£135) in Dublin - a 22% difference.

One fan contacted this newspaper to criticise the disparity.

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Meanwhile, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who chairs the Assembly's enterprise committee, accused organisers of ripping off fans.

"People want to enjoy themselves without feeling ripped off," he said.

"I have heard of people taking advantage of the difference in the two currencies, but in this instance it seems a little too much.

"It seems to be an attempt to cream off a profit from the disparity.

"U2 are a world-class act and it is great to see them back in Ireland, but I wouldn't like to think fans have been taken advantage of."

The Belfast Telegraph contacted RMP, which is handling U2's European publicity, but it did not wish to comment.

U2 are currently on a European tour to promote their latest album - Songs Of Innocence - released last October.

They will play in Belfast on November 18 and 19 before staging the four Dublin gigs on November 23, 24, 27 and 28.

Tickets for the shows go on sale at 9am on Monday.

But there is anger that some are already appearing on secondary ticketing sites at hugely-inflated prices.

One site was offering a ticket for the SSE Arena priced at a whopping £2,190.

Other tickets were listed at between £295 and £495.

The Belfast double-header marks the first time U2 have staged a Northern Ireland gig since 1998, when they played to a packed-out Waterfront Hall.

It was also the night Bono held hands with John Hume and David Trimble to call for a Yes vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. A year earlier they played to 40,000 fans in Botanic Gardens.

The concerts will see the band perform tracks from their Songs Of Innocence album to a home crowd.

Released last year, the album charts the group's earliest experiences of growing up in Dublin.

It was influenced by Seventies rock, punk and early Eighties electronica and gives an insight into how U2 came together.

U2 have played Belfast on nine occasions since the band's formation back in the 1970s.

The upcoming gigs will round off U2's Innocence + Experience Tour.

It opened in May in Vancouver, Canada, and comprised two legs - North America from May to July, and a second featuring concerts in Europe between September and November.

According to Billboard, the North American leg of the tour grossed $76.2m (£49.3m) from 36 sold-out shows.

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