Arlene Foster not surprised at Ian Paisley Jnr roaring 'Robin Swann is very dangerous' into microphone in Europa Hotel

Outgoing First Minister and former DUP leader, Arlene Foster, said she was not surprised when she was made aware DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr. joined Van Morrison on stage in the Europa Hotel on Thursday evening to roar 'Robin Swann is very dangerous'.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 4:22 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 4:24 pm
First Minister, Arlene Foster, pictured at the British Irish Council summit on Friday afternoon.
First Minister, Arlene Foster, pictured at the British Irish Council summit on Friday afternoon.

Footage has appeared on social media showing Ian Paisley Jnr. joining Sir. Van Morrison on stage in the Europa Hotel on Thursday evening.

The footage was recorded at what was supposed to be a dinner and a Van Morrison concert however the concert was blocked from going ahead by the Northern Ireland Executive because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Three other concerts planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday have also been cancelled.

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Van Morrison has been an outspoken critic of the use of lockdowns throughout the pandemic.

Health Minister Robin Swann clashed with Van Morrison in an op-ed piece for Rolling Stone magazine last year when he referred to singer's rhetoric around Covid-19 as "dangerous".

On Thursday evening after hearing the concerts were not permitted to go ahead, Van Morrison took the stage and proceed to scream into a microphone "Robin Swann is very dangerous".

Morrison proceeded to invite Ian Paisley Jnr., who was in the audience, to join him on stage where both men roared 'Robin Swann is very dangerous' together.

Reacting to the incident, Arlene Foster, said she was not surprised by Mr. Paisley's behaviour.

Mrs. Foster, who hosted the British Irish Summit, one of her final official engagements as First Minister, in her native Co. Fermanagh on Friday, referred to Mr. Paisley. as "that particular individual" and said she believed, despite the footage, there will be no change to the way in which Mr. Paisley behaves.

“It is not surprising," said First Minister Foster.

"That particular individual has always taken a very critical approach to the Executive and our decisions around Covid-19, he will probably continue in that role.

“In terms of Covid-19, people are frustrated, people are fed up, but the decisions we take are there to try to cut down on the possibility of people having to go into hospital, to go into intensive care, and that is why we make those decisions," she added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill hit back at Ian Paisley Jnr. saying: “I note the criticisms, I note the commentary from one MP, but it might be OK for him to consider his night out but we have to consider protecting the public and safeguarding against the concerns that we have.”

Sinn Fein spokesperson on health matters, Colm Gildernew, MLA, described the incident as a "stinging and reckless attack" on Health Minister Robin Swann.

"Footage of singer Van Morrison and DUP MP Ian Paisley launching a stinging and reckless verbal attack on Health Minister Robin Swann is very concerning.

"This sends out a very dangerous public health message at a time when COVID continues to pose a real threat in our communities."

Mr. Gildernew who is also the chairperson of the Stormont health committee called on the DUP to say if Mr. Paisley's behaviour was in accordance with party policy.

"The DUP need to clarify if Ian Paisley's behaviour reflects the party's view.

"We are not out of the woods yet in this pandemic, particularly with the spread of new variants, and everyone needs to continue to follow the public health guidelines."

We contacted the DUP asking them to respond to the video footage and to clarify if it supports what Mr. Paisley did - we have not yet received a reply.

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