Belfast Telegraph

Mairia Cahill: I can understand now that Sinead O'Connor's heart is in the right place

Mairia Cahill hopes the ‘passionate’ singer doesn’t get hurt along the way as she tries to change a party from within

I spoke to Sinead O'Connor yesterday. I had thought before this phonecall that maybe my experiences at the hands of the IRA and SF had escaped her. I know after speaking to her that she was not fully aware of this issue. I welcomed the opportunity to explain it to her, and also listen to her views.

Before that conversation, I had no explanation for how a woman who has been so vocal about child abuse could have chosen to join a party in the headlines for their handling of this issue since my own story broke. She is an influential figure, albeit one who has changed her opinions on quite a few occasions, which, I may add, she is perfectly entitled to do. One thing she has consistently been, however, is a powerful advocate for those who have suffered abuse.

Which is why I was so depressed when I saw her announce that she was joining Sinn Fein. I understand now that Sinead's heart is in the right place, and that she really believes she can make a difference.

I have huge respect for her talents and ability.

In response to some criticism on her Facebook page, Sinead O'Connor wrote a statement which enveloped republicans in a cloak of peace process acceptability by saying: "For anyone who is confused, Sinn Fein is no longer associated with the use of violence."

Angered, I tweeted giving her the new moniker 'Shinner O'Connor'. I shouldn't have. I was equally angered at some of the disgusting attacks on Sinead, calling into question her mental health. While criticism of her actions is valid, personal attacks on her are not.

My problem is this. When you have been abused, you become hypersensitive when it comes to other victims of similar acts.

It's been a tough few months and I imagined someone like Sinead would stand up for those victims of abuse that SF, in my opinion, treated shamefully. I know now after speaking to her that she intends to do that, though I am still mystified at how she is going to reconcile the issue in her head as she strives to make a difference. Sinead is not known for keeping her mouth shut. Sinn Fein are not known for their advocacy of free thinking. It's bound to end in tears. I hope she doesn't get hurt along the way.

I wish Sinead all the best with whatever she does, because I know that she is passionate about whatever she chooses to stand for. I hope she continues to stand for all victims of abuse no matter who the perpetrators, and manages to achieve her vision of Sinn Fein - minus those people who have been complicit in the cover-up of abuse.

  • This is an edited version of an article by Mairia Cahill.

Read more:

Sinead O'Connor seeks talks with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams 

Sinead O’Connor: I put my career on the line in the name of child protection 

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