‘It’s the only place I’ve ever been that I never wanted to go back to‘
Ripping Up John Paul II Photo
Sinéad O’Connor – RIP – You Deserve It for What You Gave the World and the Little You Received in Return
A Brave and Tortured Soul Who Spoke Out Against the Catholic Church’s Child Abuse Years Before It Became Fashionable
When I heard of the death of Sinéad O’Connor at the all too young age of 56 I felt an indescribable sadness. It was a shock, although maybe it shouldn’t have been given what she went through. There was no one who was as brave and courageous as Sinéad. When she ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II who, like all his predecessors had presided over a church which was a byword for the abuse of children and women, she suffered horrific abuse. When I first heard of her passing I thought of all those who deserve to die, like Kid Starver, yet live on to cause yet more torment. The world is a cruel place.
Sinéad is famous for her cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares to You. It is indeed a powerful song but my all-time favourite is Rebel Song in which her love affair with a violent Englishman is the metaphor for England’s murderous colonisation of Ireland. It is one of three songs that I want to be played at my own funeral when it comes.
Sinéad was nothing if not an Irish republican. Her song Famine accurately describes the so-called Irish Famine. It was of course no more a famine than what happened in Bengal and other places under British rule. It was more a case of genocide. Food was being exported at the same time as Irish peasants were starving. This was Britain’s civilising legacy to the world and Ireland was foremost amongst those the British considered uncivilised.
Nothing Compares to You
Sinéad received a standing ovation as she dedicated the Classic Irish Album award she received for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, to
each and every member of Ireland’s refugee community”. “You’re very welcome in Ireland. I love you very much and I wish you happiness.”
Sinéad was nothing if not passionate in her principles.
I am a seed
Sister Sinead is a tribute to Sinéad O’Connor by her friend, Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson comforted Sinéad on stage in 1992 when she was booed by the crowd during a Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert a fortnight after tearing up the Pope’s picture on Saturday Night Live. Sinéad regularly shaved her hair as a statement against the superficialities of the record industry, which Kristofferson alludes to in the lyric, “that bald-headed brave little girl.”
Sinéad share a thirst for speaking truth to power, no matter the consequences. Kristofferson himself made a lot of enemies with his left-wing political views, particularly on his 1990 album Third World Warrior. One of the tracks is called “Don’t Let the Bastards (Get You Down),” which is what he said to Sinéad when she was being booed at the concert.
Kris Kristofferson – Sister Sinead (2009)
It should be said that Kristofferson himself is a brilliant country musician. Notable among his songs include Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through The Night and my favourite Sunday Morning Coming Down.
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Of her ripping up of John Paul’s photograph she said “I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” “But it was very traumatising,” adding “It was open season on treating me like a crazy bitch.”
The year before that high-profile protest, she boycotted the Grammy Awards, the music industry’s answer to the Oscars, saying she did not want “to be part of a world that measures artistic ability by material success.”
She refused the playing of US national anthem before her concerts, drawing further public attacks.
Sinéad’s life was one of tragedy and abuse. Abused by her mother she lived to see her son Shane 17 die 18 months before her. She blamed the Irish health service and said “May God forgive the Irish State for I never will”.
Pogues singer Shane MacGowan tweeted:
“Sinead you have always been there for me and for so many people, you have been a comfort & a soul who is not afraid to feel the pain of the suffering.
“You have always tried to heal & help. I pray that you can be comforted & find strength, healing & peace in your own sorrow & loss.
Sinéad O’Connor receives the Classic Irish Album award for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize at Vicar Street on March 9th. Photograph: Kieran Frost/Redferns
Sinéad O’Connor on Israel
‘It’s the only place I’ve ever been that I never wanted to go back to‘
Sinéad was a strong supporter of the Palestinians and supported the Boycott of Israel. In 2014 as Israel was pursuing its murderous attack on Gaza Sinéad cancelled a concert.
In 1997 Sinéad cancelled another concert, a peace concert organised by Israeli and Palestinian women in Jerusalem entitled ‘Two Capitals, Two States, not because of a boycott, because there was no BDS movement at that time, but because of death threats from Ben-Gvir’s Kahanist organization, ‘The Ideological Front.’
In response to the threats she wrote an Open Letter, which was published in Ha’aretz, to Ben-Gvir, who is now Israel’s Police & Security Minister. In it she said:
Sinead performed twice in Caesarea in 1995, a town which is between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is the residence of Netanyahu and the Israeli rich. She told the Dublin-based site Hot Press
There is a fascinating article in today’s Ha’aretz which I am posting below. Let us hope that Sinéad has at last found peace. Below are a few obituaries and tributes
When Sinéad O’Connor Told Far-right Provocateur Itamar Ben-Gvir He ‘Succeeded in Nothing, but Your Soul’s Failure’
‘It’s the only place I’ve ever been that I never wanted to go back to. Consequentially for the last 25 years whenever anything about Israel came on the news, I’d literally turn it off’ she told the Dublin-based site Hot Press in 1995‘
FILE – Sinead O’Connor, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Credit: Itay Ron, AP
Sinéad O’Connor, the Irish superstar musician who died on Wednesday, told Israeli far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir that he has “succeeded in nothing” in a damning open letter in 1997.
O’Connor was meant to perform at a festival organized by Israeli and Palestinian women in Jerusalem entitled ‘Two Capitals, Two States,’ but backed out due to a death threat that likely came from Ben-Gvir’s Kahanist organization, ‘The Ideological Front.’
“God does not reward those who bring terror to the children of the world,” she said in the letter addressed to Ben-Gvir, whose meteoric political ascent has seen the once-obscure activist become Israel’s national security minister.
Explaining her withdrawal, she said in a statement that
“Right-wing Jewish groups threatened to kill myself and my band. I’m not prepared to die for anyone else’s bullshit, nor am I prepared to put my band at risk, so we didn’t go.”
Then-mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert described the event at the time as “anti-Israel propaganda,” and one group even tried to petition the Supreme Court to block who they described as a “PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] sympathizer” from appearing.A Haaretz publication on June 22, 1997
“I have two children, and I would not do anything that could endanger their future. I respect and love the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. I hope the two nations will solve their problems in a non-violent manner,” she added.
While Ben-Gvir never took responsibility for the threatening phone call, he bragged on Israeli radio that he and his supporters brought about O’Connor’s cancellation.
After reading a translated transcript of the interview, O’Connor decided to pen the letter, which she sent to Associated Press.
The singer also wrote to Ben-Gvir that she had long studied Jewish scripture, and that she has “always had the most passionate love for the Jewish people, and sorrow for what they have suffered throughout the centuries.”
The event received little coverage in Israel at the time, but received international attention, including front-page stories in The New York Times and Le Monde.
O’Connor later cancelled another gig in Israel in 2014.
O’Connor performed twice in Caesarea in 1995, and told the Dublin-based site Hot Press
O’Connor died on Wednesday at the age of 56.
Famous for hits such ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ and ‘Mandinka,’ she was politically outspoken for several different causes, including a Saturday Night Live performance in 1992 in which she ripped up a photo of the Pope John Paul II in 1992 over the child abuse scandals that had rocked the Catholic Church.
She converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat.
Lital Levin contributed to this report.
Let us hope that Sinéad has at last found peace. Below are a few obituaries and tributes
Sinéad O’Connor, acclaimed Dublin singer, dies aged 56 – Irish Times