The organisers of the Glastonbury festival have been accused by some fans of being heavy handed towards demonstrators who attempted to embarrass U2 during their performance at the festival.
The group of activists were from an organised protest group named Art Uncut, they launched a 25 metre inflatable balloon into the air during the performance which had the slogan U PAY TAX 2? Written on it. This attempt to embarrass the band was made whilst they were performing on the Pyramid Stage.
This protest was being made by the group after a decision was made in 2006 by the band to cut their tax bill by moving their business location from Ireland to the Netherlands. The decision was made after a cap was imposed on tax breaks by the Irish government in 2005. Politicians within Ireland were furious by the move made by U2 and named it cynical tax avoidance by some of the world’s highest earners.
It is estimated that U2 made around £80 million last year from their music alone.
The group of activists held around thirty people and comprised of a large number of different people including a teacher, artists and musicians. Within minutes of unveiling the giant balloon security guards pounced on the group.
The protest was intended to be totally peaceful and they wished to pass on a message rather cause physical violence. They condemned the actions of the security guards, saying they totally destroyed the £1,000 balloon and one activist had her finger broken. There were also reports to suggest that some members of the group were thrown against a wall by security members.
The front man of U2 Bono stated that he is all for protests, especially seen as he has been protesting himself all of his life. He says that he is glad the group got the chance to have their say but what they were protesting about was actually wrong.
A spokesperson for the Glastonbury festival stated that an agreement had been made between Art Uncut and the festival organisers. This agreement stated that the inflatable would be allowed as long as the view of other fans would not be obstructed. After two songs a request was made for the balloon to be removed and the security team deflated it as requested. There were not any heavy handed tactics used and the balloon has been returned to the group.