Monday, March 10, 2014

Ireland bailed out by Irish people, not troika, says Bono

U2 singer Bono addresses the European People’s Party election congress in the Convention Centre in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Europe urged to rediscover ‘its soul’ and spread its values of peace and prosperity to its neighbours

Ireland was bailed out by the sacrifices of the Irish people themselves and not the EU- ECB-IMF troika, U2 singer Bono has told European leaders.

Addressing the European People’s Party election congress in Dublin, he urged Europe to rediscover “its soul” and spread its values of peace and prosperity to its neighbours, particularly Africa.

He also told the conference, which included EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and German chancellor Angela Merkel, that Europe should discover the Irish concept of “meitheal” or neighbourliness.

He instanced the Irish development aid budgets, which “have roughly stayed the course” throughout the country’s economic difficulties, a factor he said made him “very, very proud to be Irish”.

Referring to the influence of Ireland in the world, which he said was part-imagined, he said: “We genuinely believe the United State of America is our colony.”

Kenny ‘preferred Springsteen’

He paid tribute to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was also present along with a number of European prime ministers. Bono said Mr Kenny was personally modest, an attribute he admired in the man. But he said he had never been able to say this directly to Mr Kenny as the Taoiseach “preferred Bruce Springsteen to U2”.
He said while he admired Mr Kenny’s modesty, “the Irish people were screwed” in the recent economic collapse. It was not, he said, the troika that had rescued the country’s finances: “The Irish people bailed out the Irish people.”

He said the “rise of extreme nationalism, the ugly kind” was “an equal-opportunity hater” that promoted hatred towards migrants, Roma and gays and should not be welcome.

Explaining the village cooperative ethos of meitheal, he told the EU leaders: “Our principles will not fail us, but we must not fail our principles.”

“There’s a transparency revolution happening, and Europe is at the forefront of it. Call it daylight. Without it, you can’t fight the corruption that keeps the poor poor, and you can’t fight the secrecy that keeps the corrupt rich.” Watch the full speech:

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