Following the news of her tragic passing, Sinead O’Connor has been remembered as a ‘rebel and warrior’.

The Irish singer’s family confirmed her death in a shared statement on Wednesday (26 July).

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” they said. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

Police, who said she was found “unresponsive” and was “pronounced dead at the scene”, are not treating her death as suspicious.

O’Connor was best known for her classic 1990 ballad ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, which is one of the most commercially successful singles of all time.

She was also notorious for her activism and political views, as well as her trauma and mental health struggles.

During a 1992 appearance on SNL, O’Connor memorably protested the cover up of the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases as she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II. O’Connor was met with widespread condemnation (including from Madonna) and her career suffered as a result.

In her 2021 memoir Rememberings, however, O’Connor said she never once regretted her decision: “Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame.”

O’Connor’s androgynous style, activism and rebelliousness garnered her a devoted following amongst the LGBTQ+ community.

She came out as a lesbian in a 2000 interview with Curve Magazine.

At the time, she said: “I’m a lesbian… although I haven’t been very open about that and throughout most of my life I’ve gone out with blokes because I haven’t necessarily been terribly comfortable about being a lesbian.

“But I actually am a lesbian… I don’t think I necessarily paved the way for anyone, but other people paved the way for me.”

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly in 2005, however, she described herself as “three-quarters heterosexual, a quarter gay”.

And in a 2014 interview with PrideSource, she said she doesn’t “believe in labels of any kind”, adding: “If I fall in love with someone, I wouldn’t give a shit if they were a man or a woman.”

O’Connor’s death came 18 months after her 17-year-old son Shane died by suicide. A week after her son’s death, she was hospitalised after indicating on Twitter that she also made plans to take her own life.

Tributes poured in for O’Connor, with Ireland prime minister Leo Varadkar describing her talent as “unmatched and beyond compare”: “Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music.”

Alanis Morrisette hailed the singer as a “profound inspiration to many”: “And to me. Her passion, poetry, and unapologetic expression raised the bar on artistry and female empowerment. Her questioning of societal norms deeply influenced culture’s appreciation of female complexity.

“Her ability to vulnerably dwell on the small part of the bell-shaped curve was thought provoking, stirring and inspiring. I’m feeling empathy for Ireland, for the world, and for all of us who are saddened by this news.”

Jamie Lee Curtis wrote: “I once heard Sìnead sing acappella in an empty chapel in Ireland. It was under construction at the private home of our host. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard in my life. We then went together to see Eminem at a festival. I loved her. Her music. Her life.

“She was a victim of child abuse and a huge change agent for unfair and unjust draconian laws that she helped change in Ireland. She was a warrior. She was a rebel. She ripped up a photograph that was on her mother’s wall because of the hypocrisy of the abusive life she was raised in under the banner of the church.

“This is so sad. Watch the NOTHING COMPARES documentary. Brilliant. Heartbreaking. Rest well. Rest in power. Rest in peace.”

See more tributes from stars such as P!nk, Toni Collette, Janelle Monâe and Russell Crowe below.


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