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Irish singer Sinead O'Connor passes away

The family of the 56-year-old Dublin-born singer has said they are devastated to announce her passing. Sinead O'Connor was well known for her activism including boycotting Israel to stand up for Palestinian rights

July 27, 2023 at 12:50 pm

Legendary Irish singer and activist Sinead O’Connor died yesterday aged 56, her family has said.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead,” the singer’s family announced in a statement.

The cause of her death is not yet known, but she is said to have been found unresponsive at her home in London and pronounced dead at the scene. Her family added in the statement that they were “devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Sinead converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat.

She was best known for her 1990 cover song Nothing Compares 2 U, which drove her to global stardom and topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts that year.

Sister Sinéad-Shuhada: misunderstood, much-maligned, much-loved and Muslim

Sinead had spoken publicly about human rights issues including the struggles of refugees and the human rights violations against Palestinians.

Earlier this year, the singer took the opportunity to put the spotlight on refugees when she accepted the Classic Irish Album award at the Choice Music Prize event in Dublin. She said: “I want to dedicate it to each and every member of Ireland’s refugee community, not just the Ukrainian ones, and you’re very welcome in Ireland.”

“I love you very much and I wish you happiness,” the singer added.

Following the 2014 Israeli aggression on Gaza, during which 546 Palestinians were killed, the Grammy-award winning icon cancelled a concert in Caesarea, an Israeli town near Tel Aviv.

“Nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight,” she said. “There’s not a sane person on earth who in any way sanctions what the f**k the Israeli authorities are doing.”

She told the Irish music and politics magazine Hot Press about her concert, held in Israel in 1995, when she was unaware of the Palestinian struggle, that “Musicians are notoriously stupid/ignorant people and I didn’t realise – nor was I told by my booking agent or anyone else – that if I stepped foot there I would in fact be breaking this cultural boycott and may as well be shitting all over the Palestinian people.”

She added: “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. As far as I was concerned Israel did not exist. So I didn’t keep up at all with anything that was going on there. It’s just a bad word to me, ‘Israel’.”

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, led the tributes to Sinead, saying his “first reaction on hearing the news of Sinead’s loss was to remember her extraordinarily beautiful, unique voice.”

“To those of us who had the privilege of knowing her, one couldn’t but always be struck by the depth of her fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention, no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been,” he said.

“What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her. May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways.”

READ: Irish MP calls for an end to Israeli apartheid