Bono attempts to claim The Beatles as an Irish band during New York event celebrating John Lennon

U2 frontman described Lennon as being "one more Irish immigrant on an island full of Irish immigrants"

Bono claimed John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles as Irish during an event in New York yesterday.

The U2 frontman appeared alongside Yoko Ono at an Ellis Island ceremony held to mark the 40th anniversary of Lennon receiving his US green card yesterday (July 29). Ellis Island was the location of Lennon famously holding up the peace sign in front of the Statue of Liberty in an iconic 1974 portrait.

The Irish Times reports that Bono addressed this image while speaking in front of an audience including U2 guitarist The Edge and Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International. “That’s why it is fitting to do this here, because John Lennon was an immigrant,” he said.

“He didn’t sail across the Atlantic in an ocean liner or a yellow submarine. He didn’t come in on a third-class ticket looking for a job in Hell’s Kitchen. He didn’t climb up out of steerage with all his potatoes in a single suitcase. But John Lennon was an immigrant all the same.”


He went on to describe Lennon as “one more Irish immigrant on an island full of Irish immigrants”, and added: “Let’s claim him, in fact let’s claim all the Beatles not as immigrants but as Irish.”

A giant tapestry marking the 40 year anniversary of Lennon’s US citizenship was unveiled during the ceremony. It depicts the island of Manhattan as a yellow submarine piloted by a waving Lennon and was commissioned as a gift for Ono by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey.

Ono granted Amnesty International the rights to record cover versions of some of Lennon’s post-Beatles songs in 2004, a move that has raised more than £3m for the charity organisation.

New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also declared July 29 as ‘John Lennon Day’.