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Van Morrison to legally challenge NI’s live music ban

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Van Morrison is to legally challenge the Northern Irish (NI) government over its ‘blanket ban’ on live music in licensed venues, which was introduced in September under coronavirus restrictions.

In a summary of the legal requirements, for venues where alcohol is served, the Northern Irish tourist board, in a section on ‘entertainment and noise’, reveals that live music is “not permitted”, along with recorded music “for the purposes of dancing (ie DJs)”.

NI is currently partway through a six-week lockdown in which hospitality and entertainment venues must remain shuttered but the Northern Irish singer-songwriter is eager to challenge the rules for when they reopen.

Solicitor Joe Rice said Morrison, who has released several protest songs against Covid-19 rules in recent months, will ask the high court in Belfast to review the policy.

Morrison is taking the action “on behalf of the thousands of musicians, artists, venues and those involved in the live music industry”, Rice says.

“We’re not aware of any credible scientific or medical evidence to justify this particular blanket ban”

“We will be seeking leave for judicial review to challenge the blanket ban on live music in licensed premises in Northern Ireland. We’re not aware of any credible scientific or medical evidence to justify this particular blanket ban … and we’re going to challenge this in the high court.”

Rice says he expects the case to be heard at the high court within “weeks”.

Van Morrison isn’t the only Irish artist who has called out government recently – Dublin-born artist Ronan Keating last week invited British prime minister Boris Johnson to meet him in a park to discuss “how [the UK] government is effecting UK musicians and the arts”.

“Ok @BorisJohnson, I think it’s time we had a chat. I can’t come to yours nor can you come to mine. But can we meet in a park socially distant and discuss how this government is effecting UK musicians and the arts,” Keating wrote in a tweet.

The tweet followed reports alleging that the British government had rejected an offer to allow UK musicians to tour Europe without needing a visa post-Brexit.


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