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Van Morrison to challenge Northern Ireland live music ban

Van Morrison is planning a legal challenge against the Northern Irish government over the country’s ban on live music due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ singer’s lawyer, Joe Rice, said Morrison has given authorities 21 days to respond. His legal representative added that if the Department of Health does not respond within that time frame, Morrison will “issue proceedings immediately to the High Court”.

The Northern Irish singer-songwriter, who has been vocal in his criticism of COVID-19 restrictions, filed a pre-action protocol letter with Northern Ireland’s Department of Health on January 12, challenging measures that prohibit live music in indoor licensed venues in Northern Ireland.

The country is currently in the midst of a six-week lockdown that began on Boxing Day and has forced hospitality and entertainment venues to close.

Rice said, according to the Guardian: “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 told RTE that Morrison reportedly claimed that “live music” has not been defined, leading to a blanket ban on all types of performances. “Many people in the music and arts world in Northern Ireland have been devastated financially, socially and artistically by this complete ban. This differs from the law in England and Wales and the evidence behind such a negative decision in this jurisdiction is far from obvious.”

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

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