Van moves closer to city freedom
Plans to give veteran singer Van Morrison the freedom of Belfast have moved a step closer.
A proposal to grant the honour to the 68-year-old passed without comment during a monthly meeting of the city council but members are expected to approve the move during a specially-convened sitting later this month .
Speaking afterwards at Belfast City Hall, former lord mayor Gavin Robinson said the musician had made an outstanding contribution to civic life.
He said: "Van Morrison has projected a positive image for the city of Belfast through difficult decades with outstanding musical creativity."
In a letter to the council chief executive nominating Morrison for the accolade - the highest a council can bestow - Mr Robinson said: "I can think of no better individual, who poetically paints a majestic vision of the area I live, love and have the privilege to represent, to receive the honour of freedom.
"From humble beginnings, living just behind 'the bright side of the road', Van has rightly achieved international acclaim."
Morrison, known affectionately to fans as "Van the Man", has taken inspiration from his home city for a number of hits, including Cypress Avenue and Hyndford Street, which have sold millions worldwide.
His career began in the 1950s and he has enjoyed critical acclaim, winning six Grammy Awards, a Brit Award for outstanding contribution to music, and places in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
But Morrison, who is from east Belfast, has not forgotten his working-class roots and last year headlined the community-run festival on his home turf.
In May, Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters received the freedom of Belfast in recognition of her sporting achievements and contribution to Belfast life.
The pentathlete was the first person to receive the honour in a decade.