The Cranberries have become the first Irish band to reach one billion plays on YouTube for their protest song Zombie.

Zombie is the the sixth promo video from the 20th century to reach the billion-views milestone on YouTube.

In a statement on Twitter, the surviving members of the band - Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler -thanked their fans and paid tribute to their late friend and singer Dolores O'Riordan.

Drummer Fergal Lawler wrote: "We are so delighted with the news that Zombie has reached 1 Billion views on YouTube. We are sure Dolores has a big, proud smile on her face too. Thank you so much to all our fans around the world for supporting us over so many years." 

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Speaking to 2FM's Dave Fanning, Lawler said it's "overwhelming" to think of that many people watching the video for a song that was written in a "small little shed" in Co Limerick.

"We started playing the song live and instantly got an amazing reaction from people," he said. "It was a really powerful song live."

He explained that the band initially had to fight to get Zombie released as a single because it was deemed "too political".

It was a song about injustice and war that developed into a song of peace, he said.

"Trying to vent our frustration at how people are still doing the same things in 20 or 30 years from when that song was written. I think that's why it's lasted so long - people can relate to it."

The Limerick band follow in the footsteps of Guns N' Roses' November Rain (1992); Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991); Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine (1987); A-ha's Take On Me (1985); and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) in reaching one-billion views.