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remains concerned Van Morrison drops legal challenge against the Northern Executive’s ban of live music

It comes after relaxations were put in place around the performance of live music at venues across Northern Ireland


Van Morrison

Van Morrison

Van Morrison

Belfast singer-songwriter Van Morrison has discontinued his legal challenge against the Northern Executive’s ban of live music.

It comes after relaxations were put in place around the performance of live music at venues across Northern Ireland.

While the controversial artist has welcomed the decision to permit live music, a statement issued on his behalf on Tuesday morning said 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 said the timing of a decision to ease restrictions on the performance of live music forced Van Morrison to cancel concerts he had been due to perform in Belfast last month.

Morrison said: “The case has raised many questions that need to be answered by the Northern Ireland Executive.

"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.

"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.

"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.”

The singer’s solicitor, Joe Rice, said Sir Van was disappointed by the failure of the Executive to engage with him, which he said forced him to launch legal proceedings.

He said a range of musical events could have proceeded if the Executive had worked with artists to ensure they were safe.

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Last month, Morrison began judicial review proceedings against Stormont regulations relating to live music as part of a concerted campaign which saw him launch a blistering attack on Health Minister Robin Swann.

A spokesperson for The Executive Office said: “The Executive has always sought to protect people and support those affected by the pandemic. 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.”


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