'Tax dodge' protest at U2 Glastonbury show turns violent

25th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Violence erupted in the crowd watching U2's debut performance at Britain's Glastonbury festival Friday, as security guards foiled a protest against the Irish rockers' tax status.

As the band came on stage to play to around 50,000 revellers, campaign group Art Uncut inflated a 20-foot (six-metre) balloon emblazoned with the message "U Pay Your Tax 2."

But as they tried to release it over the crowd, a team of 10 security guards waded into the crowd and wrestled them to the ground before deflating the balloon and taking it away.

The intervention took place after U2's first song "Until The End of The World" and sparked clashes between some 30 protesters and security guards. No arrests were made.

One campaigner, who did not give his name, said: "Political activism used to belong at Glastonbury. This was all going to be completely peaceful."

But the violence did not stop U2 rattling through an array of their smash hits, including "I Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday".

Frontman Bono was wearing his trademark sunglasses and the heavy rain that poured down during the band's set did not seem to affect his performance.

Art Uncut had earlier announced their plans to protest against U2, whose frontman is more used to receiving plaudits for a crusade to tackle African debt, poverty and disease.

"Bono is well known for his anti-poverty campaigning but Art Uncut is accusing him of hypocrisy," campaigner Charlie Dewar said.

"U2's multimillion-euro tax dodge is depriving the Irish people at a time when they desperately need income to offset the Irish government's savage austerity programme."

The group said U2 had switched their tax affairs from Ireland to the Netherlands to pay less tax following a change in the law in 2006.

Ireland needed a massive international financial bailout last year after falling into heavy debt when a property bubble burst.

U2 -- who were unable to headline Glastonbury last year after Bono was rushed to hospital for emergency back surgery -- were not available for comment.

Around 170,000 revellers are expected this weekend at the dairy farm in Somerset, southwest England, where the world's largest greenfield music and performing arts jamboree is held.

Earnest British rockers Coldplay headline on Saturday night and R&B superstar Beyonce takes the honours on Sunday.

© 2011 AFP

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