Entertainment

U2 face mud, protests at Glastonbury

A skirmish broke out during U2's performance at Britain's Glastonbury festival between security guards and protesters unhappy with the group's tax avoidance in Ireland.
The Art Uncut group is unhappy U2 moved their business affairs in 2006 from Ireland to the Netherlands, which meant they didn't have to pay taxes in Ireland on their profits. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

A skirmish broke out during U2's performance at Britain's Glastonbury festival between security guards and protesters unhappy with the group's tax avoidance in Ireland.

The Art Uncut group inflated a massive balloon emblazoned with the message "U Pay Your Tax 2" during the Irish rock group's Friday night performance. The statement is a reference to the group members' decision to move their business affairs in 2006 from Ireland to the Netherlands, which meant they didn't have to pay taxes in Ireland on their profits.

As the protesters were about to release the balloon over the crowd, they were wrestled to the ground by a security team, who then deflated it and took it away.  There were no arrests.

Friday's performance was U2's first British festival appearance since the early 1980s.

U2 had been due to perform at Glastonbury, Britain's largest summer festival, in 2010. However, the group withdrew when lead singer Bono injured his back.
Bono has gained international recognition for his work as an anti-poverty activist. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

The U2 frontman is known for his anti-poverty activism, but Arts Uncut has begun a "Bono Pay Up!" campaign, dedicated to highlighting the band's decision to move some operations from Ireland to the Netherlands for tax purposes.

The multimillionaire musicians should be contributing to their country at a time when Ireland is facing financial hardship, the protest group argues.

The band's manager, Paul McGuinness, told Reuters U2 is "fully compliant" with Irish tax rules. U2 is "a global business and it pays taxes globally," he added.

Eclectic musical mix

Most of the 175,000 expected at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival are attending for the musical mix, which includes veterans such as B.B. King, Coldplay and Paul Simon alongside newcomers such as Mumford & Sons and Cold War Kids.

Beyoncé, making her festival debut, will be the first woman to headline the main Pyramid Stage.

There are also reports in the U.K. of a surprise, last-minute addition to the schedule: Radiohead.

Organizers are already putting down hay around the Somerset dairy farm that hosts the festival, as the area has had three days of rain so far and more forecast for Friday and Saturday.

Most festival-goers are wearing rubber boots to cope with mud. The gates opened to festival-goers on Wednesday and the music continues through Sunday.

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