New Sinn Fein recruit Sinead O'Connor calls on Gerry Adams to quit
Singer Sinead O'Connor has announced she has joined Sinn Fein - and immediately demanded its leader Gerry Adams stand down.
The controversial musician, best known for her Prince-penned hit Nothing Compares To U, announced on her blog she was joining the republicans to push for a "proper socialist Ireland".
Ms O'Connor said it was the only party that could deliver a promise made in the Easter Proclamation from the 1916 Rising that all of the nation's children should be cherished equally.
In a follow-up post on her Facebook page, she announced she had now joined the party.
But in an attack on the leadership, she said: "I might not even be the kind of person they want, because I'm gonna write here that I feel the elders of Sinn Fein are going to have to make 'the supreme sacrifice' and step down shortly in the same way the last Pope did."
Sinn Fein has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks over renewed allegations by Belfast woman Mairia Cahill that she was raped as a teenager by an IRA suspect.
Ms Cahill also claims there was an IRA cover-up of sexual abuse during the Troubles.
Comparing the fall-out to Pope Benedict standing down amid child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, Ms O'Connor said it was the "smart thing for him to do" because "the Church were losing bums on seats, if I may use a showbiz term".
"There'd be a zillion per cent increase in membership of Sinn Fein if the leadership were handed over to those born from 1983/1985 onward and no one associated in people's minds with frightful things," she said.
"Frightful things belong where they are now, in the past." In a statement, Sinn Fein said it was looking forward to working with Ms O'Connor to change Ireland, but defended the leadership of Mr Adams.
"The membership of the party selects the Sinn Fein leadership every year at our ard fheis (annual conference)," a spokeswoman said.
"As a member, Sinead O'Connor would have an equal say in that process.
"In the election in May, Sinn Fein trebled our representation at local government level and elected four MEPs across the island of Ireland.
"Support for Sinn Fein in this state has grown considerably since Gerry Adams was elected as a TD.
"In 2011, Sinn Fein was at 9.9%. The party received 15.2% of the vote in the local elections this year, and recent polls have put support for Sinn Fein at between 22% and 26%.
"We look forward to working with Sinead in an effort to deliver the changes so badly needed in Ireland."
Sinead O'Connor has never been far from controversy. Her row with Miley Cyrus topped a list of the biggest celebrity feuds of 2013. After Cyrus credited the Irish singer for inspiring her Wrecking Ball video, in which she appears almost naked, O'Connor penned her an open letter, advising Miley to not let the music industry "make a prostitute out of you".
O'Connor famously sang Bob Marley's War a capella - with the lyrics changed to draw attention to the cover-up of abuse in the Catholic Church - on US TV in 1992. She also tore up a picture of the Pope.