Tributes for 'fearless' Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, who has died at the age of 56

ITV News Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda looks back at the life and career of Sinead O'Connor

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor's "talent was unmatched and beyond compare," the country's president has said, after her death at the age of 56.

O'Connor, born in Dublin, was best known for her song Nothing Compares 2 U, which was named the number one world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.

She released 10 studio albums across a career spanning more than 30 years.

In a statement, the singer's family said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead.

"Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was "really sorry" to hear of her passing.

"Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare," he said in a tweet. "Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music."

President Michael D Higgins praised O’Connor’s “beautiful, unique voice” and her “fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention, no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been”.

“What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades,” he added in a statement.

Fellow musicians have paid tribute to O'Connor's life, including Irish band Aslan and Tim Burgess, the lead singer of the Charlatans.

Burgess tweeted: "Sinead was the true embodiment of a punk spirit. She did not compromise and that made her life more of a struggle. Hoping that she has found peace."

Elsewhere, artists from across the musical spectrum, writers, actors and other celebrities shared their admiration for the often controversial singer.

Writer Bonnie Greer described O’Connor, who had a massive hit with the Prince song Nothing Compares 2 U, as having a great soul music voice.

She tweeted: “Soul music is not about ‘ooh, baby, baby’. And I know about soul music because I was born and grew up around where Sam Cooke sang… and #Prince knew that #Sinead had it in her, too – that’s why she got his song.

“But her voice was #Ireland right down to the ground.”

The Irish author Marian Keyes described the news as “heartbreaking”, describing the singer as an “amazing, brave, beautiful, unique wonder”, while writer Caitlin Moran said O’Connor was “THE greatest voice of her generation, no contest” and “fearless”.

The singer Cat Stevens, who like O’Connor converted to Islam, said “she was a tender soul”, while singer-songwriter Billy Bragg described her as “braver than brave”.

Rapper turned actor Ice T tweeted: “Respect to Sinead….. She stood for something… Unlike most people”, while American singer-songwriter Jason Isbell posted: “I hope there’s peace for Sinead at last.”

Among other musicians to post tributes were Belinda Carlisle, Janelle Monae, UB40, Melissa Etheridge, Margo Price and Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello.

Irish comedian Dara O’Briain said he hoped the singer “realised how much love there was for her”.

And Oscar winner Russell Crowe shared a story about meeting her while working in Ireland last year and enjoying a conversation outside a pub.

He wrote: “In a conversation without fences we roamed through the recent Dublin heatwave, local politics, American politics, the ongoing fight for indigenous recognition in many places, but particularly in Australia, her warm memory of New Zealand, faith, music, movies and her brother the writer.

Throughout her career, O'Connor was vocal about her activism, political views and struggles with mental health. Credit: PA

“I had the opportunity to tell her she was a hero of mine.

“What an amazing woman. Peace be with your courageous heart Sinéad.”

Throughout her career, O'Connor was vocal about her activism, political views and struggles with mental health.

In 1999, O'Connor caused uproar in Ireland when she became a priestess of the breakaway Latin Tridentine Church - a position that was not recognised by the mainstream Catholic Church.

For many years, she called for a full investigation into the extent of the church's role in concealing child abuse by clergy.

In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI apologised to Ireland to atone for decades of abuse, O'Connor condemned the apology for not going far enough, and called for Catholics to boycott Mass until there was a full investigation into the Vatican's role

O'Connor announced in 2018 that she had converted to Islam and would be adopting the name Shuhada' Davitt, although she continued to perform and record under her birth name.

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