Northern Ireland’s Health Minister has called Van Morrison’s anti-lockdown songs a “smear on all those involved in the public health response [to coronavirus]”.
Robin Swann, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, criticised the singer in a new Rolling Stone article, saying: “There’s a real feeling of disappointment – we expected better from him”.
Swann continued: “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.
“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’.”
In the artists’s three new tracks – titled “No More Lockdown”, “Born to Be Free” and “As I Walked Out” – Morrison rallies against scientists who are “making up crooked facts” and compares the lockdown rules to slavery.
Swann said of the songs: “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 tinfoil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”
The health minister also pointed to a previous interview with Morrison in which the singer said he was apolitical.
“He 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.
“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,” said Swann, referencing Morrison’s 1986 album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.
Morrison is one of many musicians who have criticised the government’s response to the pandemic, taking issue with the lockdown rules and the mandatory use of protective face coverings at certain times.