Bono: ‘We are a tiny country and tax laws have brought Ireland the only prosperity we've ever known’

Tim Cook, Bono and the rest of U2 at the launch of the iPhone 6 Newsdesk

U2 frontman Bono has claimed that the controversial tax laws which have helped multinationals avoid billions in tax have “brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known”.

In an interview with the Observer, the singer said the Irish economy needs companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, which have been the subject of international criticism for the so-called ‘Double Irish’ loophole.

In the interview, the singer said: “We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known.

“That’s how we got these companies here … We don’t have natural resources, we have to be able to attract people.”

In the interview, Bono who describes himself as a "natural social democrat", said Ireland had benefited from "more hospitals and firemen and teachers because of [our tax] policies".

He said: “As a person who's spent nearly 30 years fighting to get people out of poverty, it was somewhat humbling to realise that commerce played a bigger job than development.

"I'd say that's my biggest transformation in 10 years: understanding the power of commerce to make or break lives, and that it cannot be given into as the dominating force in our lives."

The European Union is putting pressure on Ireland to alter the so-called Double Irish loophole amid warnings it could be the subject of a full scale investigation.

That  loophole has allowed companies to reduce their effective tax bill far below the country’s 12.5pc corporate tax rate by shifting most of their taxable income from an operating company in Ireland to another Irish-registered firm located in a offshore tax haven. .

The U2 frontman is likely to face fresh criticism for his comments.

In the past U2 have been slammed for their own group’s tax arrangements. Eight years ago, the company that looks after the band’s publishing royalties was transferred from Dublin to the Netherlands.

The band also came under fire for teaming up with Apple to give away their new album for free.

However,  according to the 'New York Times', Apple paid the band and Universal an unspecified fee as a blanket royalty and committed to a marketing campaign for the band worth up to $100 million in order to release the album 'for free'