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Bono speaks of IRA threats

(Suzanne McGonagle, Irish News)

Bono has revealed for the first time how U2 was warned in the 1980s that the IRA would attempt to kidnap them after they spoke out against them in the US.

In a new book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, the lead singer reveals that British intelligence officers treated the threat "very seriously".

He said the band had to give their fingerprints and toe prints to police who feared they would be kidnapped.

The singer also talks about his relationship with his father, who died in 2001, as well as the night Nobel Peace Prize winners John Hume and David Trimble shook hands on stage at a U2 concert.

The book also promises Bono reflecting on his transformation from an extrovert singer into one of the most famous individuals in the world and speaking candidly about his faith, family, influences and passions.

But what will perhaps interest Irish readers most is his revelation that the group were targeted by paramilitaries following their criticism of paramilitarism in Ireland and America.

Bono said that when the group, who have sold 130 million albums and won 14 Grammy awards, toured the US in the 1980s they deliberately tried to dry up funds for the IRA in the country.

The singer said his outspoken condemnation of the violent campaigns by paramilitaries and the resultant drop in funding in the US prompted the death threats.

It is understood the threats were issued after a documentary film of U2 was made in 1988 that included a mixture of concert footage and a look at America through the eyes of the Irish rockers.

In the film, Rattle and Hum, Bono make a speech against the support that many Irish-Americans gave to the IRA campaign in the north.

Bono spoke on stage at a US concert on the day 11 people were killed in an IRA bomb at a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen.

He angrily challenged the idea that what was going on in Ireland was somehow "glorious" before giving an emotional performance of the song Sunday Bloody Sunday. In the book he also described an incident in which the band were confronted by a group of republicans who surrounded their car.

"One had the Tricolour around his fist trying to smash the windows of the car with his bare hands, screaming "Brits, Traitors".

April 12, 2005

This article appeared first in the April 11, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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