Health minister Robin Swann has slammed singer Sir Van Morrison for "dangerous" protest songs in which the singer accused the government of taking the public's freedom during the Covid crisis.
he singer has released three new songs 'Born To Be Free', 'As I Walked Out', and 'No More Lockdown' that protest against the coronavirus lockdown, in which he claims scientists are "making up crooked facts" in measures that "enslave" the population.
In response the health minister urged the public to listen to the advice coming from doctors and scientists.
"I know whose message I would rather listen to," Mr Swann told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan programme.
"I don't know where he gets his facts. That sort of messaging is dangerous.
"I haven't heard the songs but if Van Morrisson has counter-scientific facts that he's prepared to stand over and have that debate with the chief scientific officer and the chief scientific advisor, I think that's how he should do it.
"Our messaging is about saving lives, so if Van wanted to sing about saving lives, that's more in keeping with where we are at this minute."
Sir Van has faced a wave of criticism for the songs.
In one of the songs 'No More Lockdown', Northern Ireland singer Sir Van likens the government to "fascist bullies" and accuses them of "overreach" in implementing the lockdown.
“No more fascist bullies, disturbing our peace. No more taking of our freedom. And our God given rights, pretending it’s for our safety, When it’s really to enslave", he sings in the track.
The 75-year-old singer recently launched a campaign to "save live music" on his website last month, where he denounced what he described as "pseudoscience" around coronavirus.
"I call on my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up," he said.
Sir Van was expected to play two shows at The London Palladium next week, but the gigs have been rescheduled.
In a statement announcing his new songs, the musician said: "I'm not telling people what to do or think, the government is doing a great job of that already.
"It's about freedom of choice, I believe people should have the right to think for themselves."
Sir Van, who has campaigned for performance venues to open at full capacity again, said he feels strongly that lockdown is in danger of killing live music.
He warned that without a date for reopening fully in 2020, many venues will shut down for good.