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IRISH fans erupted in fury when the frontman of heavy metal band Iron Maiden provocatively waved two giant Union Jacks at a gig.

Singer Bruce Dickinson looked stunned as the band was drowned out by a chorus of boos at Dublin's Point Depot on Monday night.

The legendary rockers, playing Ireland for the first time in almost 10 years, quickly retreated to the back of the stage after the flag- waving stunt backfired.

Irate fans booed, whistled and shouted insults at the band for several minutes.

One said: "They should never have waved a Union Jack in front of 5,000 Irish fans.

"It was unbelievable when Bruce went to the back of the stage, got on a podium and started waving the Union Jack.

"I don't think he realised Ireland is not part of Britain.

"Waving a Union Jack at a gig full of testosterone-fuelled Irish teenagers is like a red rag to a bull.

"The crowd didn't like it. Bruce didn't realise how furious the crowd were and proceeded to the other side of the stage where he got another giant Union Jack and started waving it.

"The boos were so loud, the music was drowned out for a while.

"The band were genuinely shocked. But they kept on going."

Within 10 minutes of the flag-waving fiasco, a fan managed to hurl a tricolour on stage to loud cheers.

One onlooker said: "When the Irish flag landed on stage, the crowd got their own back on Iron Maiden.

"It was only a small tricolour but the fans made their point."

The band played to the sell-out Dublin crowd as part of their 2003 world tour Dance Of Death.

Their mascot Eddie has been an inspiration for several loyalist paramilitaries who have used his image on wall murals throughout the North.

In Derry, Iron Maiden's "Eddie" is depicted as a UFF soldier with a backdrop of a burning Bogside and dead republicans.

Under the Iron Maiden mascot's feet is daubed: "There must be no retirement with our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.

"We determine the guilty, we decide the punishment."

A description on the band's website explained why the Union Jack is a fundamental part of the show.

It is waved during the song The Trooper which is a hommage to those who died in the trenches during one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

Iron Maiden's record company in Ireland had no comment to make yesterday.


MAKING A POINT: Singer Bruce; BAD MOVE: Iron Maiden sparked outrage
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2003
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