Blues singer extraordinaire Van Morrison is currently engaged in legal proceedings against Northern Ireland’s Department Of Health and its minister, Robin Swann. Detailing the case with BBC News NI, Morrison’s spokesperson exclaimed, “We confirm that legal proceedings have been issued against Mr Robin Swann MLA and the Department Of Health.”
Morrison has used his platform to express dissatisfaction against the UK government, particularly in light of procedures done in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Morrison has released three songs – ‘No More Lockdown’, ‘Born to Be Free’ and ‘As I Walked Out’ – that detailed his fury at the measures, feeling that it impinged on his freedom of speech. Swann responded to these remarks in 2020. “Van Morrison is going way beyond raising questions,” Swann wrote. “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.”
In January 2021, Morrison was rumoured to be taking legal action against Swann, although he dropped the proceedings later on in the year. Morrison has regularly chanted “Robin Swann is dangerous”, which led the minister to take legal action against the singer. The case is currently ongoing.
Born in Belfast in 1945, Morrison was one of the first bonafide Irish rockstars to make an impression on the international circuit. His career preceded Phil Lynott‘s, and likely inspired the bassist to follow in his footsteps. His second album, Astral Weeks, is widely considered to be a benchmark of Irish rock, and Morrison has shown an interest in pursuing an Irish identity, even though his background is Protestant and Unionist. His 1988 album Irish Heartbeat was recorded in the heart of Dublin, although Dexys frontman Kevin Rowland was dismayed to hear about the release of the album.
In his interview with Far Out, Rowland claimed he had an idea for an album called Irish, but decided not to pursue it when he caught wind of Morrison’s intentions. Rowland returned to the concept in 2016.