Ian Paisley: Van Morrison’s ‘dangerous’ chant about Robin Swann was using same term minister used about his songs in Rolling Stone magazine

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said that Van Morrison’s ‘dangerous’ chant about Health Minister Robin Swann was using the same term the health minister used about his anti-lockdown songs.

Ian Paisley jnr MP on stage at the Europa with Sir Van Morrison
Ian Paisley jnr MP on stage at the Europa with Sir Van Morrison

There has been widespread criticism of the pair after a video emerged of Van Morrison – on stage at the Belfast hotel – roaring into a microphone that “Robin Swann is very dangerous” before beckoning the MP onto the stage to join in.

In an opinion piece for Rolling Stone magazine last September, Robin Swann commented on Sir Van’s outspoken opposition to the scale and duration of the Covid lockdown, saying people “expected better” of the Belfast music legend.

Mr Swann wrote: “However, it goes further than disappointment. Some of what is he saying is actually dangerous. It could encourage people to not to take Coronavirus seriously.

“If you see it all as a big conspiracy, then you are less likely to follow the vital public health advice that keeps you and others safe.”

Sir Van has continued to be a critic of Stormont’s public health policy.

Speaking to UTV this afternoon, Mr Paisley firmly defended his actions and words.

He said: “Van Morrison gave a vary powerful speech, a very powerful oration, and if I could summarise it, it was this;- It was that he had been called dangerous in one of the world’s rock magazines by the health minister a few months ago. And he was called dangerous because as an artist, he wrote a protest song. Now, last time I checked, artists do this all the time. They write protest songs, they write love songs. They write inspiring lyrics and challenging lyrics.

“And I think Van Morrison responded - quite rightly responded - back, and said, ‘Well actually you the government and you the health minister have all the power. I am just an artist, I am not the dangerous one here. You are the dangerous one.’ And he said that, and said it with force and vigour.”

Mr Paisley added: “I was more than happy whenever one of our most famous sons beckoned me to join him on stage and to stand in solidarity with him and his band - and with the room - in that.”

In a seperate statement from the DUP party on Friday evening, Mr Paisley said: “Last night’s event was very sad for the live music industry. I was put on the spot and called to the stage and tried to bring matters to a close by referencing some of Van’s music. What was parody, comedy, banter and sarcasm should not be blown out of all proportion.

“I certainly don’t believe Robin is dangerous. I think the parody and sarcasm of that comment is obvious!

“Remember last year the Department of Health labelled a song dangerous and I think Van is entitled to parody that.”

Mr Paisley added: “There is a balance in all of these matters and at times we get them right and at times wrong.

“We are all entitled to our own views on how the lockdown has been managed. I’m sure some will take offence – as with all things- but none was intended on my part.”

Van Morrison has launched three anti-lockdown songs: No More Lockdown, Born to Be Free, and As I Walked Out.

On No More Lockdown, he sings: “No more lockdown/No more government overreach/No more fascist bullies/Disturbing our peace. No more taking of our freedom/And our God-given rights/Pretending it’s for our safety/When it’s really to enslave.”

But writing in Rolling Stone magazine in response, Mr Swann said: “His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists. The tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

DUP Edwin Poots was asked by the media in Fermanagh today to comment about the events in the Europa Hotel. He replied “I’m not a Van fan”.

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Alistair Bushe