Friday 9 December 2016

Bono and the band witnessed Ben Dunne's fall from grace

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

LET’S TALK BOOKS: Lenny Abrahamson, Neil Jordon and Jim Sheridan were guest speakers at a talk titled ‘Directors Talk Books’ chaired by Miriam O’Callaghan
LET’S TALK BOOKS: Lenny Abrahamson, Neil Jordon and Jim Sheridan were guest speakers at a talk titled ‘Directors Talk Books’ chaired by Miriam O’Callaghan

Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness has revealed how Bono witnessed the sensational Ben Dunne cocaine and hooker scandal as it happened back in the early 1990s.

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The rock star was staying at the same hotel as Ben Dunne on the night that rocked the world of Irish business and politics.

In a phone call home, the singer recounted how his crew was questioned and his hotel was surrounded by police as the half-naked businessman threatened to jump.

As the music manager recalls: "It was [the early 1990s] and by extraordinary coincidence Ben Dunne and his golfing friends were in the Grand Hyatt Cypress in Orlando in Florida as were 30 or 40 U2 crew and the band.

"They were all in the same hotel and we were rehearsing in the arena nearby for what was the ZooTV tour and I was still in Dublin... And I got a call from Bono and he said 'tell me something, he says, aren't the Dunnes in jail?' (He was referring to a number of well-known Dublin drug dealers, also named Dunne)

"I said: 'Yeah, I think they are because I heard that the guards had a big party to celebrate them being locked up' and he said 'well I'm not sure about that - I think there's one of them here' and I said 'what do you mean?'"

Describing Bono's confusion, McGuinness went on: "He said, well at four or five o'clock this morning, there was an almighty row in the room next to mine and the cops came and there was a SWAT team and there was this Irish bloke in his underpants and he was threatening to jump [from the building] which was 18 storeys high and there was hookers and cocaine and they thought it was one of us - they thought he was one of our crew. One of our crew was asked: 'who is this guy?' and he, I think, succeeded in telling them that we wouldn't employ anyone like that!" McGuinness joked.

"So I said, 'so what happened Bono?' And Bono replied 'well they took him away'. And I said 'oh' and he added: 'After a while everything calmed down but I don't know what happened. Who do you think he was because he was definitely Irish he had a Dublin accent?'"

McGuinness, who was equally as confused, then turned to his buddies: "By coincidence I was having a drink in the Shelbourne at the time with two of my friends, one of them Sam Smyth, the investigative reporter, and the other one was PJ Mara... so I told them what Bono had said to me and I said: 'I wonder who it was?' and then PJ said 'mind you, unless it was Benny?', referring to the high profile businessman and heir to the supermarket fortune.

The men thought no more of it until, days later, the story exploded in the papers.

McGuinness was speaking at the Dalkey Book Festival.

Sunday Independent

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