- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

LONDON (AP) - U2 and its frontman Bono are known for their global poverty-fighting efforts but activists plan to protest their performance Friday at England’s Glastonbury festival, accusing the Irish band of dodging taxes.

The anti-capitalist group Art Uncut said it would unfurl banners and placards in front of TV cameras filming the U2 gig on the festival’s main Pyramid Stage.

Member Charlie Dewar said Bono campaigns against poverty in the developing world but has avoided paying Irish taxes at a time when his austerity-hit country desperately needs money.

Ireland, which has already accepted an international bailout, is suffering through deep spending cuts, tax hikes and rising unemployment as it tries to pull the debt-burdened economy back from brink of bankruptcy.

“Tax(es) nestling in the band’s bank account should be helping to keep open the hospitals, schools and libraries that are closing all over Ireland,” Dewar said.

U2, the country’s most successful band, was heavily criticized in 2006 for moving its corporate base from Ireland to the Netherlands, where royalties on music incur virtually no tax.

Bono, guitarist The Edge and U2’s other members _ bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen _ are among the country’s wealthiest residents. Forbes magazine has estimated the band earned $195 million last year, mostly through its hugely profitable “360 Degrees” world tour.

It’s not known how much personal income tax the band members pay in Ireland.

During the years when Ireland was a booming “Celtic Tiger” economy, the members of U2 invested in a wide range of Dublin properties, including a luxury riverside hotel and a planned Norman Foster-designed skyscraper on the River Liffey. Plans for the “U2 Tower” were shelved when property prices collapsed in 2008.

U2 is headlining the first night of the three-day Glastonbury festival, its first appearance at Britain’s most prestigious summer music event. The band was due to perform last year but had to pull out after Bono injured his back.

Fans were keenly anticipating Friday’s show _ and said they would give protesters a hostile reception.

“I don’t think the protest will go down well,” said 42-year-old fan Sarah Craig. “I for one will be giving them a headache if they plan any protest in front of me.”

Some 170,000 people have descended on a farm in southwest England for the extravaganza, which includes sets by Morrissey, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Beyonce and scores of other acts.

Rubber boots are the fashion item of choice after heavy rain turned the 900-acre (364-hectare) site into a mudbath. More rain is forecast for later Friday.