Category: Archive

Bono and the boys get freedom of Dublin

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Less than 24 hours after they were given the freedom of the city, members of the U2 rock band claimed one of their newly conferred privileges when they turned up on Sunday afternoon with two lambs in St Stephen’s Green.

Bemused tourists and people out for a stroll in the sun watched as Bono, 39, whose real name is Paul Hewson, and the Edge, Dave Evans, 38, arrived in the Green with the borrowed lambs.

Under old city charters, bestowing the freedom of the city also meant conferring the right to graze animals on commonage.

Though now a park surrounded by prestigious offices and the government departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice, the Green was common land when the roll call of honor was first established in 1876.

Bono tried to explain: "Dublin city is about tolerance. We want to set some sheep free."

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The Edge called his pet "My Little Lamb." Bono named his "Michael Jackson".

"He’s baaaaad," he explained.

On Saturday, Dublin paid tribute to the struggle for human rights and home-grown rock music by bestowing the freedom of the city on the band and Burmese (Myanmar) democratic opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The conferring by Lord Mayor Mary Freehill added their names to a roll-call of honor which already includes U.S. Presidents Ulysses Grant, John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The U2 foursome. Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, 38, and Adam Clayton, 39, and their long-time manager Paul McGuinness, 47, were honored because their international success had raised Dublin’s profile and they had made a major contribution to the city.

All were born on the northside of Dublin and continue to live in the city.

Mullen started the band in 1976 when it was initially called Feedback. All five are equal shareholders in the band and are believed to be worth more than £450 million as a result of their album sales, merchandise, royalties and investments.

Bono, who confessed he was little bit nervous before the ceremony, described the conferring as a "big deal."

"It’s the biggest honor this city can give you," he said.

Afterwards, the band performed an impromptu short concert.

There are reports that Bono and fellow Irish rocker Bob Geldof may be in the running for a Nobel peace prize next year for their work in highlighting the campaign to cancel Third World debt.

The two singers have been to the forefront of the Jubilee 2000 campaign to alleviate the crippling debts hanging over developing countries.

So far, Britain, Italy, Canada and the US have backed the campaign. Recently, Geldof and Bono had an audience with Pope John Paul who first highlighted the debt issue in the mid 1980s.

Bono has also been a strong supporter of Amnesty International and U2 has been involved in Greenpeace protests against Britain’s Sellafield nuclear re-processing center.

Freehill paid special tribute to the bravery of Aung San Suu Kyi, 54, and hoped she would one day come to Dublin in person to sign the roll of honor in the same way that Nelson Mandela did after he was freed from South Africa’s Robin Island prison.

The president of the Burmese National League for Democracy and 1991 Nobel Peace laureate has been held under house arrest for years after her party’s electoral success was not recognized by the military junta.

"I would like to thank the people of Dublin for conferring this honor on me. I hope this will be an augury of all sorts of good things to come for both our people — greater friendship, greater ties, greater understanding and greater compassion," she said in a message to the city.

Her son, Kim Aris, accepted the honor on her behalf at the open air ceremony attended by about 12,000 people in the newly developed Smithfield area.

"We feel that it is an especially touching award as it is symbolic of the city opening its heart to her."

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