Abroad, the biggest rock band on the planet are lauded as the champions of the poor and the conscience of rich nations normally indifferent to global poverty. But at home in their native Dublin, U2 have become embroiled in a row with Irish environmentalists over two building projects, with Bono and co accused of arrogance. U2 have also come under fire for moving their music publishing company from the Irish Republic to the continent in order to pay a lower rate of tax on their royalties. Ireland’s equivalent of the National Trust – An Taisce – has denounced U2’s plans to partly demolish and redevelop a hotel they own by the river Liffey in Dublin. An Taisce has also demanded a public inquiry into the new “U2 Tower”, which, at 32 storeys, would be the highest building in Ireland. Sited at the mouth of Dublin Bay, the U2 Tower will be designed by Norman Foster. An Taisce fears it will blight the Georgian cityscape on the southern side of the Liffey.
“Our biggest concern is that the U2 Tower will stick out of the skyline from parts of Georgian Dublin like Merrion Square. It could potentially be an incongruous blot on the skyline on the south side of the city,” said Ian Lumley, An Taisce’s national heritage officer. Lumley claimed there was no proper environmental impact survey carried out for the proposed project. Nor, he said, had U2 or the planners taken into consideration one of the band’s global concerns: the impact of climate change.