Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has criticised Van Morrison’s decision to release three anti-lockdown protest songs in a new op-ed.
Morrison recently announced plans to release the tracks ‘No More Lockdown’, ‘Born to Be Free’ and ‘As I Walked Out’ in opposition to the government’s restrictions. In ‘No More Lockdown’, Morrison reportedly claims scientists are “making up crooked facts” and likens the government to “fascist bullies”.
In response, Swann said in his Rolling Stone op-ed “there’s a real feeling of disappointment – we expected better from him.
“It’s entirely right and proper to debate and question policies. It’s legitimate to ask if the right balance is being found in what is being done; if the right steps are being taken. None of this is easy or straightforward,” he said.
“But Van Morrison is going way beyond raising questions. He is singing about ‘fascist bullies’ and claiming governments are deceiving people and wanting to ‘enslave’.
“It’s actually a smear on all those involved in the public health response to a virus that has taken lives on a massive scale. His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists – the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”
Swann also pointed out a 2017 interview with Morrison, during which the singer said he was apolitical.
“He’s changed his tune big time since then. He could have chosen to sing about how we all can help save lives. He could have written a tribute to our health and social care workers on the frontline,” Swann said.
“Instead, he’s chosen to attack attempts to protect the old and vulnerable in our society. It’s all bizarre and irresponsible. I only hope no one takes him seriously. He’s no guru, no teacher.”
Morrison is one of many artists who have recently criticised or acted in opposition to public health advice pertaining to COVID-19. Earlier this month, Noel Gallagher said he refuses to wear a mask while shopping, directly breaching current UK regulation.
In August, thousands gathered at a Smash Mouth show as part of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. One study has suggested the ten-day event can be traced to more than 260,000 cases in the US.