Monday, July 26, 2021

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Singer Van Morrison has accused the Northern Ireland Executive of being “shambolic” in its approach to lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

Last week the musician cancelled a number of gigs planned for the Ulster Hall after Stormont ministers delayed a decision on concerts recommencing, stating that they wanted more information about risks.

But on Monday, ministers agreed that theatres and concert venues can reopen from 6pm on Tuesday.

The singer-songwriter said his cancelled concerts could have gone ahead, but blamed the Executive for not giving enough notice.

He added: “Once again the Northern Ireland Executive has been shambolic in their approach to lifting concert restrictions.

“The announcement has come so late in the day that it’s a kick in the teeth.

“Cancelled concerts that were planned for this week, could have gone ahead.

“Regrettably like many other sectors, there’s been no advance warning, no plan or road map for the industry.

“Stormont have lost the confidence in the public and are clearly deaf to our industry when making decisions.”

Morrison has been an outspoken critic of Covid restrictions.

Last month, he cancelled a series of gigs at the Europa Hotel in Belfast at the last minute, because they were in breach of regulations.

Instead, he took to the stage in the Europa where he was joined by DUP MP Ian Paisley in chanting that Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann “is very dangerous”.

Music for the Marsden – London
Van Morrison cancelled a number of gigs which had been due to take place at the Ulster Hall this week (Ian West/PA)

On Monday, the Executive announced that audiences will be permitted to return to performances.

Live music will be permitted for rehearsals and performances, with no restriction to background or ambient levels of volume.

Entry to performances for audiences will be by ticket only.

Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and remain seated and are not permitted to dance.

Social distancing of one metre is required.

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