Bono and Enda: whiskey and waffle
Rock star offers to be ambassador in two-hour meeting with Taoiseach
WHEN Bono met Enda, the rock star presented the Taoiseach with a bottle of Mayo whiskey as the advisers were sent away and the pair discussed affairs of state.
The duo had a two-hour private meeting in the Taoiseach's office last Wednesday during which the U2 singer's offer to act as an ambassador for Ireland was discussed, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Bono presented the bottle of whiskey, believed to be the niche Inish Turk Beg, to the Taoiseach as a Christmas gift.
A Government spokesman last night confirmed that the meeting had been tentatively agreed at the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle in October. At the forum, Bono said he was willing to "hit the road again", not on a U2 world tour, but to resurrect the reputation of Ireland abroad.
The U2 singer told delegates at the forum that he was willing to work for the country in whatever role was asked of him.
Last night the Taoiseach's spokesman said a "wide range of issues" were discussed by the two men during what turned out to be an extended meeting. Mr Kenny asked all staff to vacate the room while he and Bono discussed national and international events.
The meeting, which took place ahead of the U2 Christmas party in Dublin, is the first known occasion in recent years that Bono has had a one-to-one meeting with a Taoiseach. In the late Eighties, the rock star, who is from Glasnevin in Dublin, established a close relationship with the late Fine Gael leader Garret FitzGerald. Bono was also a member of Young Fine Gael in that decade.
He has since gone on to world fame, not only as a singer and musician, but as a campaigner against world poverty and a civil rights advocate. He is most notably associated with the 'Drop the Debt' campaign in the Third World.
At the forum in Dublin in October, Bono said the mood was "oddly optimistic" and referred to a "certain fighting spirit" which he found evident. He also praised the Irish people's "anarchic spirit" and said the Government had been smart to fight for Ireland's tax competitiveness.
He said the most important thing to take from the forum was that it was "within us to make this country ours again so we're not beholden to these financial institutions".
In recent years, U2 was subjected to significant criticism back when it emerged that the band had relocated part of their rock empire to the Netherlands after the Government capped the artists' tax exemption.
Bono's offer to act as an ambassador to resurrect the reputation of Ireland abroad may be seen as an attempt by the frontman to restore a reputation which was somewhat damaged by the disclosure.
After his meeting with the Taoiseach, Bono joined his bandmates, management, staff and friends at Harry's Bar at Hanover Quay in Dublin where they enjoyed the Christmas festivities.
The comedy rap duo The Rubberbandits were among those present at the Principal Management get-together. The bar's owner, Harry Crosbie, also turned up for the occasion.