Van Morrison called Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann “very dangerous” during an anti-lockdown rant in Belfast last night (June 10).
The musician was due to perform four gigs at the city’s Europa Hotel, but the shows were called off at the last minute.
Current coronavirus regulations in Northern Ireland mean that live music is not permitted in either licensed or unlicensed hospitality venues. The Europa Hotel had hoped the gigs would be classed as test events but were advised by the Executive Office to call them off.
Van Morrison, who has been outspoken on his views about the pandemic restrictions and lockdown measures, addressed a crowd who were meant to attend the first concert at a pre-show dinner event.
Referring to Swann’s previous comments that Van Morrison’s anti-lockdown songs are “dangerous”, the musician said: “Well, if I can’t affect any change in this situation, I don’t have any power or my power is very limited to change this situation.
This is Extra ordinary . pic.twitter.com/M0jmA0JIf2
— Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) June 11, 2021
“Robin Swann has got all the power. He’s keeping in this for over 15 months. All I have to say is if I don’t have any power – and my power is extremely limited, if at all – Robin Swann’s got all the power. So I’d say Robin Swann is very dangerous.”
He then began chanting “Robin Swann is very dangerous” repeatedly, as members of the audience cheered and clapped. Van Morrison then called Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley on stage to join in the chant.
Swann is a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and their leader Doug Beattie responded to the rant. “Having watched the video of Ian Paisley and Van Morrison’s antics on the stage of the Europa Hotel in Belfast, I am absolutely disgusted by what I saw,” he told the BBC.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. Two grown men who should know better, engaging in a very personal attack on Northern Ireland’s health minister.”
Beattie added that Swann had “worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives” and described Van Morrison’s attack as “appalling”.
Van Morrison has protested coronavirus restrictions on several anti-lockdown songs in recent months, the latest of which featured Eric Clapton. He has also called socially distanced gigs “pseudo-science”, urging other musicians and promoters to “speak up”.