Music legend Van Morrison has said freedom of speech around lockdowns is being marginalised.
Lockdown sceptic Van also bemoaned the "negative reaction" to music exercising "freedom of expression" about the ongoing crisis.
The east Belfast-born star has been vocally anti-lockdown for some time, last year releasing three lockdown protest songs and calling on his fellow artists to "fight the pseudoscience and speak up".
Only Eric Clapton signed up to his cause, inspiring Morrison to write a rhetorical R'n'B tune on his new album called Where Have All the Rebels Gone?
In an interview with yesterday's Times newspaper, Morrison (75) claimed freedom of speech and the press were being limited during the pandemic restrictions, which he refers to as "the elephant in the room".
"The only other person who has any traction or motivation to speak out about what's going on, to get out there and question things is Eric (Clapton)," said Van.
"A few people got a petition together to end the lockdown, but nobody pays attention to petitions, do they?"
"If I can write about it, I do. Poetic licence, freedom of speech... these used to be okay. Why not now?
"I don't understand it. Some people call it a cult. It is like a religion. Whether anyone agrees with me or not is irrelevant.
"Just as there should be freedom of the press, there should be freedom of speech, and at the minute it feels like that is not in the framework. If you do songs that are an expression of freedom of speech, you get a very negative reaction."
In a wide-ranging interview, Van discusses his new album Latest Record Project: Volume 1, which contains the tracks Why Are You on Facebook?, Stop Bitching, Do Something and They Own the Media.
"At my age, this is where I'm at," he said of the album.
"It won't be like what I did 50 years ago because I'm not there any more.
"It won't be like what I did 10 years ago. Now I'm doing social observation, commentary, satire... I'm going straight for the jugular.
"People expect me to do this, so I'll do that. It's about the elephant in the room.
"My last gig was in a field in Newcastle in September 2020, all socially distanced. Then the elephant in the room happened.
"It's a message to myself, to the world."
One positive outcome of the lockdowns for Morrison has been a jump in his productivity, with the 28 songs on Latest Record Project: Volume 1 pulled from more than 50 he has written in the past year and a half.
He added: "When you are on a roll you tend to write more and keep going, and with not doing any gigs one has more time to reflect.
"I write in the morning, every day from breakfast until lunch, and for that time I'll be concentrating fully.
"Inspiration doesn't come down the chimney. You have to work at magic."