U2’s frontman Bono has for the first time publicly defended his decision to move the megastar band’s publishing branch to the Netherlands in 2006 to avail of better tax options.

Speaking with Gay Byrne on RTE’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ program, Bono said “The shock horror moment here is U2 behaving like a business. We live in a small rock in the north Atlantic and we would be under water were it not for very clever people in Government and the Revenue who made tax competitiveness a central part of Irish economic life.”

Bono pointed out that, "It's the reason why we have companies like Google or Facebook and indeed I helped bring those companies to Ireland.”

"So it is more than churlish for Irish people to say, 'We don't want an Irish company involved in that stuff that we do want everyone else (involved in).'"

In 2006, U2, who is currently worth an estimated 800m, moved the publishing arm of their business from Ireland to the Netherlands after the Irish government capped the amount of artists’ income exempt from tax at 250,000.

Now, Bono wonders why he and his band cannot be “tough in business” like other companies. He said, “Why is it because I am involved in what some people think are idealistic things… why can’t U2 be tough in business?”

“This thing about the “warm fuzzy feeling”? I’d like people to get over that. Because that’s not who I am. I am tough.”

“I may sing from a very private and intimate place and I make art, but I’m tough-minded and I’m intellectually rigorous, I hope. I think U2s tax business is our own business. And I think it’s not just to the letter of the law it’s to the spirit of the law.”

Gay Byrne and BonoRTE