Sinead O'Connor is one of the most outspoken singers of her generation. Here in a open letter to Mairia Cahill she reveals the complex reasons behind her recent decision to join Sinn Fein
I deplore what happened to you and I can understand why you would find it upsetting that someone like myself would join Sinn Fein .
I assure you I have not changed my personality overnight and as someone who has put her career on the line for 30 years as an advocate for child protection, the very first thing I did when I applied to join the party was state publicly that the elders of the party whose faces are associated with frightening things and who are associated with either the carrying out or the covering up of sexual crimes or other crimes should stand down - so that Sinn Fein can get back to being what it was intended to be after 1916. Because we in the Free State need help and these associations do not help anyone.
Allow me to point out that while I challenged the Pope, I also became a priest.
My doing so in no way implied I had no regard for the plight of clerical abuse victims.
I continued in the 15 years since my ordination, to challenge the Church on matters of abuse - and, I repeat, I did not have a personality transplant the day I applied to join Sinn Fein.
May I also point out that I myself was repeatedly sexually molested as a child in the 1970s by a member of Sinn Fein.
And I am certain I was not the only victim of that man, who is now dead.
My ordination was a statement that I believe there is something worth salvaging from all the disgustingness of the past.
My joining Sinn Fein is the same statement. I am interested in reclaiming Sinn Fein, and reframing what it means to be a republican so that a new country becomes the aim, rather than merely a new republic.
Our island is divided into three communities - the Free State and the two divided communities 'up North'. It is my sincere belief that one day these three communities will get together to create an entirely new country which does not identify itself as Ireland, or Northern Ireland, but has a new name and is run by and for all the inhabitants of the island.
I am hoping that my engaging with Sinn Fein will help to bring about conversation amongst the republican and loyalist communities about their joining us in the Free State, and to bring it about as quickly as possible.
Conditions for the people of the Free State are so dire that it has become an urgent matter that Sinn Fein be reclaimed and made honourable so as the revolutionary feelings which abound in the Free State as we come to the 1916 centenary have a channel through which they can flow non-violently.
The very fact it is considered appalling to join Sinn Fein is why the elders should step down and is also why new people should join.
We need to get in and make it a party which honours the spirit of 1916 by acting honourably, and which is part of creating a new country.
I assure you that as upset as you are with me for applying to join, so are many members (because of my criticism of the elders) and many other people from other communities.
But one cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. And the people of the Free State are starving. So there isn't time to wait.
I think it is more practical to join and say the elders should leave than not to join.