Van Morrison Drops Live Music Legal Challenge

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Van Morrison Drops Live Music Legal Challenge

 

Van Morrison has decided to drop his legal challenge against the Northern Ireland Executive’s live music ban.

The singer-songwriter’s decision follows the easing of restrictions around live music performances in Northern Ireland.

The outspoken opponent of pandemic restrictions has welcomed Northern Ireland’s decision to allow live music to resume. However, a statement issued on Van Morrison’s behalf reiterates that he “remains concerned by the failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to share with him at any time the medical evidence that could ever have supported the need to maintain a blanket ban of live music.

The statement also made reference to Van Morrison being forced to cancel performances in Belfast last month.

The case has raised many questions that need to be answered by the Northern Ireland Executive,” Morrison said. “As long ago as April 2021, I proposed a test event based on a robust health and safety risk assessment. I question why this offer was not taken up. I understood also that as part of the disclosure process within the judicial review proceedings, I would get to see the medical evidence justifying the blanket ban on live performance. I never got to see that evidence and until I do see it, I will continue to question the legality of this blanket ban.

The Brown Eyed Girl singer went on to question why Northern Ireland ignored the lead of the rest of the UK in easing restrictions.

Such a ban was removed in other parts of the UK many months ago yet, for some reason, completely unknown to me, it remained in force in Northern Ireland with catastrophic consequences for many artists, venues and the economy as a whole,” he said.

Van Morrison appealed to the executive to ensure plans are put in place to avoid such issues in the future.

As we look to the future, we need to understand the plan and strategy to support the arts and live music sector going forward as ultimately this helps support society as a whole. It’s concerning that such considerations appear to have been forgotten.

Van Morrison’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client had been forced to launch legal proceedings due to the Executive’s refusal to engage with him.

Rice said live music performances could have gone ahead if the Executive had engaged with artists to ensure safety measures were put in place.

The Executive has always sought to protect people and support those affected by the pandemic,” said a spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s Executive Office. “Restrictions have been a necessary way to limit the spread of the virus and Ministers welcome the easements the Executive has been able to make over the last number of months. Executive decisions are informed by medical and scientific evidence and advice. There is a range of comprehensive data published daily outlining the progression of the epidemic and associated pressures.

Van Morrison has spent the past year expressing his disapproval of the worldwide response to the pandemic. In 2020 he released several songs protesting against the lockdown, which he compared to fascism.