Thursday 21 March 2019

Bono kept me up a little late, says Bill Gates

Lise Hand

MICROSOFT founder Bill Gates held separate meetings with the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste today – but he also found time to catch up with old friends.

Mr Gates, who topped Forbes magazine’s rich list last year with an estimated fortune of €50 billion, flew into Dublin last night – but still found time to catch up with some friends.

“Bono kept me up a little late last night,” he told the Taoiseach as he arrived in Government Buildings.

The billionaire and the U2 singer have been friends for almost a decade – Bono appeared alongside Bill Gates and his wife Melinda on the cover of Time when the trio were named the magazine’s People of the Year in 2005 for their charity work.

After an hour-long breakfast meeting on overseas development aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore described the billionaire philanthropist as “very much a friend of Ireland”.

The Tánaiste said they had also discussed Ireland’s economy.

“I took the opportunity of briefing him on what we have been doing to stabilise the public finances, to attract inward investment," he said.

"He had encouraging things to say to me about Ireland’s recovery and he expressed very strong hope that Ireland would recover and expressed a confidence in that."

Mr Gates also had a meeting with the Taoiseach in Government Buildings, before travelling to the Aras to call on President Higgins.

Ireland is one of several countries being visited by Mr Gates who is en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

According to the Tánaiste, the discussion also centred on the negotiations over the European Union budget which are continuing under the Irish presidency of the EU. He said that “there is concern which Bill Gates shares” over the EU budget in terms of development aid.

“I briefed him on where the discussions are at the moment. I told him the objective at this stage is to try and agree a budget in early February”.

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