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Singer Sinéad O’Connor, Shunned for Standing Up for the Rights of the Most Vulnerable, Dies at 56

HeadlineJul 27, 2023

Sinéad O’Connor, remembered as much for her haunting vocals as for her fearless and outspoken protests, has died at the age of 56. Sinéad O’Connor rose to stardom in 1990 when she released her version of the Prince song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” In 1992, she performed Bob Marley’s “War” on “Saturday Night Live,” then proceeded to rip up a photo of Pope John Paul II on live TV, declaring, “Fight the real enemy.” The move, a protest against systemic child abuse in the Catholic Church, of which she was a survivor, provoked widespread uproar. She addressed her ”SNL” performance days later during an interview with “Entertainment Tonight.”

Sinéad O’Connor: “Ireland has the highest incidence in Europe of child abuse. I experienced it myself. And I find his presence in Ireland, telling the young people of Ireland that he loved them, hilarious. At least when I studied the history, I found out that the people who were responsible for telling lies in the first place were at the Vatican, who, through permitting the invasion of countries and the destruction and murder of entire races of people in the name of God and for money, and then their subsequent overtaking of the educational systems of all the countries that they went into, led to distortion of historical fact.”

A decade later, in 2002, an investigation by The Boston Globe shined a spotlight on sexual abuse and its cover-up in the church. Sinéad O’Connor was an ally to LGBTQ communities and marched for abortion rights decades before it was legalized in Ireland. She converted to Islam and started using the name Shuhada’ Sadaqat in 2018. She spoke out for Palestinian rights, respecting the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, once saying, “on a human level, nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight. There’s not a sane person on earth who in any way sanctions what the fuck the Israeli authorities are doing.” Sinéad O’Connor had four children. Her cause of death has not been revealed. Her son Shane took his own life a year and a half ago.

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