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Bono on life in lockdown: 'We're not all in the same boat, but we are going through the same storm'

The U2 frontman spoke to Ryan Tubridy this morning.

Bono turns 60 on Sunday.
Bono turns 60 on Sunday.
Image: PA Images

BONO HAS SAID that he thinks the world needs to “think differently” after the Covid-19 pandemic and that “a new politics” has got to come in it.

In a lengthy and personal interview on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio One, the U2 frontman said he wanted to “thank the country for putting up with my sometimes avuncular self”. 

“I’m pretty meditative and reflective now and just giving thanks, really,” he added. 

Bono spoke about his work in helping to fight the Aids crisis in Africa and how he attempted to bring that experience to the current pandemic. 

He was asked by Tubridy about U2 donating €10 million as part of efforts to help secure personal protective equipment (PPE) here in Ireland. 

“I got a call from Paschal Donohoe the Finance Minister, just talking about how I could contribute. And I thought, well, probably the best thing is figuring out how this PPE procurement would work out,” Bono said.

And the band are a little funny about public philanthropy because in the end, it’s part self-promotion. So we’ve just, we’ve always been wary of it, we’re not very American in that sense. But we wanted to do something serious and show solidarity with the frontline medics, but not just the carers but everybody who’s out there.

“It’s like the Raiders of the Lost PPE out there, it’s a really extraordinary market out there. And people are getting just pushed out of the way and countries are being pushed out of the way by all manner of vendors. And I just thought, well, this is what we can do,” Bono added. 

It’s really difficult and so I managed to with the help of Liam Casey and the band to get, when it’s finished, it will be about I think it’s about 20 million masks. They’re called the 2R masks were what the HSE were looking for and Paul Reid was incredible on this. And I think we’ll have 300,000 masks, goggles. We’ve 30,000 gowns coming, it’s a small contribution in truth.  

Same storm

Speaking about his time dealing with lockdown in Dublin, Bono said that he is “spoiled” by the “magnificent view” from his house but that he has been thinking about people who are less fortunate. 

“You know, it’s like we’re not all in the same boat, but we are going through the same storm,” Bono told the programme. 

Speaking about those working in the healthcare sector, Bono described their efforts as “a different level of courage”. 

And I think when we surface from this the world is gonna have changed. And I hope one of the things that will have changed about it is, you know, that our view of who are the most important people in our workforce. And it’s not even just those nurses, doctors and care workers, it’s the taxi drivers who go in there, it’s the people stacking the shelves. I mean, it’s turned things kind of upside down. And I am grateful for that, I think everything is going to be new. And we need to think differently. 

“And, you know, we have a new politics that has got to come into our life. And we have to think about, we have to think about making sure that everybody feels included in that,” he added. 

Bono also spoke about his children during the interview, saying that his son John is a Leaving Cert student and has been worried about the uncertainty around the exams.

He said being at home during the pandemic has meant he feels like he wants to spend more time with his children when it’s all over. 

“I’d like to spend time more time with my kids, they’re incredible. Eva is an amazing actor, Joe is amazing activist, John, as I mentioned earlier, is doing the Leaving Cert.

We call him Little John. I mean, I call him Little John because he’s six foot. Yea I want to be around and see Ali more and maybe in that sense being locked down has worked out great for us. I mean, we still like each other and want to be in each other’s company. And though I can see the younger ones want to get out and meet their mates more, but as regards my own sort of personal pilgrimage, I’m still on it and I haven’t come up with all the answers I’d like. 

During his activism Bono has famously, or infamously depending on your point of view, been on speaking terms with US presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Bono has said he has not met President Donald Trump but has been dealing with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the response to Covid-19 in Africa.

He described Mnuchin as being “very courteous  in preparing for a potential Covid catastrophe south of the equator”.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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