DUBLIN (AP) — Sinead O’Connor, long a critic of church and state in Ireland, says she’s joining the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party — and wants its leaders to step aside for younger voices free of IRA connections.
The 48-year-old singer, who recently released her 10th album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss,” says Sinn Fein is the only left-wing party able to steer Ireland toward social equality.
But O’Connor says senior figures Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who oversaw the outlawed Irish Republican Army, should retire. The 66-year-old Adams has led Sinn Fein since 1983.
She told Facebook followers: “There’d be a zillion percent 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.”
Currently the second-largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and fourth largest in the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Irish republic, Sinn Féin was long associated with Ireland’s armed struggle for independence.
By the time of the Northern Ireland’s Troubles in the 1970s the party was closely linked to the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group commmitted to ending English rule of Northern Ireland.
As such most senior members of the party, including leader Gerry Adams, have been linked to the bombing campaign carried out across Northern Ireland and England largely against what were seen as political and economic targets.
Mr Adams has consistently denied allegations he was a member of the IRA. The Provos only renounced violence in 1997 when Sinn Féin were finally admitted to the peace talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement.
While it still campaigns for the central aim of a united Ireland, Sinn Féin now largely operates both north and south of the border as a democratic socialist party supporting minority rights and the eradication of poverty.
Most recently the party has leant its weight to the campaign against water charges in the republic, where the cost of running water has previously been included in general taxation.
O’Connor wrote on Facebook of her decision to join Sinn Féin: “I joined Sinn Fein today. Because resolving issue number one is the way to resolve all current issues. Issue number one is we don’t own our country.
“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.”