Belfast Telegraph

U2's bomb tribute whips up a storm

U2 plays the SSE Arena next month amid controversy over a tribute to the victims of the 1974 UVF Dublin and Monaghan bombings
U2 plays the SSE Arena next month amid controversy over a tribute to the victims of the 1974 UVF Dublin and Monaghan bombings
Bono with former political leaders David Trimble and John Hume in 1997 at a special concert supporting the Good Friday Agreement
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

They won't arrive in Belfast for three weeks but already U2 have stirred up a major political controversy.

The Irish supergroup have included a musical and pictorial tribute to the victims of the 1974 loyalist bombings of Dublin and Monaghan as part of their stage set for the new iNNOCENCE and eXPERIENCE tour which is currently playing to packed audiences at London's O2 area.

But, as a result of the montage, the world's biggest rock band have been accused of insensitivity towards victims of republican atrocities such as the Shankill bombing and the Kingsmills massacre.

The UVF cross-border attacks - a series of co-ordinated car bombings on May 17, 1974 - brought the highest single-day death toll of the Troubles, killing 33 civilians and a full-term unborn child.

It was also the worst terrorist attack in the Republic's history.

U2's tribute comes in the form of a relatively new song, 'Raised by Wolves', which has been following 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' in the group's set list, and includes the lyrics: "I take a look and now I'm sorry I did... 5.30 on a Friday night 33 good people cut down."

The song is also preceded by sounds of explosions which reverberate around the arena.

Ulster Unionist politician Jim Rodgers, a former Belfast Lord Mayor, expressed his anger at the "one-sided nature" of U2's tribute, which he said "could cause a riot".

"It's a very bad idea and it's most disappointing because they quite clearly haven't thought this one through," he said.

"There isn't a hierarchy of victims. Those bombs were absolutely horrendous and at the time I totally and utterly condemned them.

"Families are still in mourning and they are still suffering through losing their loved ones.

"But you have to remember that so many people in Northern Ireland have lost those close to them over 40 years of continuous violence."

Mr Rodgers said he hoped band members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jnr would review the composition of their show ahead of their sell-out performances at the SSE Arena on November 18 and 19.

'Raised by Wolves', a track off U2's most recent album, 'Songs of Innocence' has been played at every concert so far on the 2015 tour, which has taken in Spain, Germany and Belgium prior to this week's London gigs.

"They must amend the set list before coming to Belfast because I'm sure many of their fans, like myself, would be absolutely horrified if they didn't do that," said Mr Rodgers.

"I also hope their advisors let them know the importance of clarifying the reasons why they just refer to the Dublin and Monaghan bombs and not those which have taken place in virtually every part of Northern Ireland.

"If they don't take this on board I just hope there won't be a nasty reaction to them because that would be absolutely terrible, but I firmly believe they are inviting one.

"In the worst case scenario there could be a riot if they don't amend their material."

It is not yet known if U2 intend to change the tribute for the Belfast performances.

A spokesperson for the band, however, told the Belfast Telegraph: "The set list is only ever finalised on the day of a show.

"Regarding Raised By Wolves, the core message of that piece is that everywhere needs truth and reconciliation".

Lead singer Bono has in the past spoken out against all forms of violence in Ireland and beyond.

On the day of the Enniskillen bombing, November 8, 1987, he delivered a passionate on-stage condemnation of the atrocity during a U2 concert in Denver, Colorado, castigating the "armchair republicanism" of many Irish-Americans and adding that the majority of people in the Republic do not support the IRA.

And, when U2 last appeared in Belfast, at a special 1997 Waterfront Hall concert supporting the Good Friday Agreement, Bono brought former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and ex-SDLP chief John Hume onto the stage.

He also wrote 'Peace on Earth', a song acknowledging the Omagh bomb victims of August 15, 1998.

Belfast Telegraph


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