Belfast Telegraph

Father Ted musical on way, says Hannon as he lays into Brexit, Trump and benefits

Neil Hannon is distinctly unimpressed by Donald Trump
Neil Hannon is distinctly unimpressed by Donald Trump
Donald Trump
The cast of the TV classic, Father Ted

By David O'Dornan

Music star Neil Hannon has railed against Brexit and Donald Trump and called for a new "broad stroke" benefits system for the unemployed.

The Divine Comedy singer had plenty to say about the state of the world as he released his latest album, Office Politics.

"Of course I'm against (Brexit) because it is the stupidest idea that anyone ever had," Mr Hannon said.

"There is only one issue right now and that is the fact that the world is completely f*****, ecologically.

"That is why am so mad about Brexit, because it is deflecting from the thing that if we don't solve, we are all screwed.

"If we accept that everything has to change to fight environmental catastrophe and the end of biodiversity as we know it, we could make everybody's life better."

The 48-year-old knows all about the border - he was born in Londonderry, the son of Church of Ireland minister Brian Hannon, before the family moved to Enniskillen when he was 11.

But is not just Brexit and the border that inspired some of the tracks on his new album.

"Dark Days Are Here Again (a song on the record) was written the morning after Trump got elected," he explained.

"I knew we had slipped into a weird parallel universe.

"It is not just about Trump, but the rise of populists, which is just a pleasant term for fascists.

"I woke up in Dijon on the tour bus. I stood outside and it was like the world I knew... there were dark clouds over everything. All the leaves had fallen off the trees and I was thinking, 'Is this the apocalypse?' You have to laugh."

The impact of technology and the divide between the rich and the poor are also high on the musician's agenda.

"It is not just robots taking people's jobs, it is social media distorting democracy," he said.

"There are people who just want technological progress to make heaps of money. It is just another method of s******* us.

"There is a lot going on, not all of it good. More headlines yesterday about the increasing rampant disparity between the richest and the poorest. That is pretty much the thing that winds me up in this world.

"All this waffle about entrepreneurs creating opportunities? I don't dig all that b*******. It seems like ordinary working people are expected to do more and more for less and less.

"I am increasingly in favour of a universal basic income. It is a bit like when I started doing music in the late Eighties and the early Nineties, there was a thing called the dole. People often referred to it as the 'young musicians' allowance.

"That's how I lived while I was trying to do what I wanted to do and it (a universal basic income) would work the same way).

"Everyone would get it, so nobody is homeless, nobody has to commit crimes. It is a broad strokes picture, but the places where it has been tried, they found people want to do more. It enables them to find out what they are good at."

On a lighter note, Hannon told the Big Issue he was working on finishing the Father Ted musical, for which he has reunited with writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews.

"Almost all the songs are done and almost all the script is done, but that doesn't mean it is imminent," he said.

"Graham and Arthur were so important in my early career because they gave me this amazing opportunity.

"Since then I have done another 20 years of albums.

"Back then I was this weird little indie kid they could order about. Now I am not so willing to be pushed around, so there have been a few disagreements, but we are getting there."

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