In the global scramble for medical equipment and diagnostic kits to fight the coronavirus, Ireland has found an edge: Bono.
The U2 singer has lobbied South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, and corporate titans including Apple’s Tim Cook, to help find personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies for Ireland’s health service.
Moon’s office tweeted on Sunday that it had received a letter from Bono and that the president’s spokesman, Kang Min-suk, would respond in writing. The tweet noted that Bono had been nominated for the Nobel peace prize. The rock star met South Korea’s president last December after performing in the country.
South Korea makes PPE and other medical kit that many countries are seeking to combat Covid-19.
Ireland’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, contacted Bono in late March to enlist him in a public-private collaboration that last week obtained supplies from China, the Irish Times reported.
In addition to Moon and Cook, Bono has contacted Jack Ma, the head of the Chinese retailer Alibaba, Marc Benioff of the software giant Salesforce and Doug McMillon of Walmart.
“I just don’t think this is the moment for U2 to be doing a sort of Kumbaya thing. It just doesn’t feel right for me – it feels like a time for action rather than words,” the singer told the Irish Times, which described the collaboration as an example of Ireland’s “soft power”.
Liam Casey, the founder of the tech supply chain business PCH, which is part of the public-private alliance, said Bono’s lobbying had clinched new suppliers including a top executive at the Chinese tech giant Tencent. “The power of Bono on the ground – I was able to go to some of the bigger companies and that really opened the doors for us.”
U2 has pledged to donate €10m (£8.7m) to support healthcare workers in Ireland, which is expected on Monday to pass 10,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It has recorded 334 deaths.
Last month Bono performed his first new music since 2017 with a song inspired by quarantined Italians. He posted the new song, Let Your Love Be Known, to his Instagram account and dedicated it to health workers and anyone who was “in a tight spot and still singing”.