A ‘unique voice’: President Higgins leads tributes to Sinéad O’Connor

Leo Varadkar says the singer’s music was ‘loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare’

President Michael D Higgins said with Sinéad O’Connor's death Ireland has lost 'one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades'. Photograph: Collins

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the late singer Sinéad O’Connor, saying Ireland has lost “one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades”.

Mr Higgins said the 56-year-old had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, “all of whom held such love and warmth for her”.

“My first reaction on hearing the news of Sinéad’s loss was to remember her extraordinarily beautiful, unique voice,” he said in a statement.

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“To those of us who had the privilege of knowing her one couldn’t but always be struck by the depth of her fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been.”

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Mr Higgins added that O’Connor’s voice and delivery was in so many different ways “original, extraordinary and left one with a deep impression that to have accomplished all she did while carrying the burden which she did was a powerful achievement in its own way”.

“Her contribution joins those great achievements of Irish women who contributed to our lives, its culture and its history in their own unique but unforgettable ways. May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways.”

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said O’Connor’s music was “loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare”.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he was “devastated” to learn of O’Connor’s death. “One of our greatest musical icons, and someone deeply loved by the people of Ireland and beyond. Our hearts goes out to her children, her family, friends and all who knew and loved her.”

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said O’Connor was “an iconic musical talent” and a “voice of spellbinding beauty gone all too soon. She was a once-off.”

Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin said she was “so sorry” that the “immensely talented” O’Connor had died.

Ian Brown of The Stone Roses described O’Connor as a “beautiful soul” and that hearing her “sing my songs in the studio in Dublin was magical and a highlight of my musical life”.

Broadcaster Dave Fanning said O’Connor would be remembered for her music and her “fearlessness” and “in terms of how she went out there all the time, believed in everything she was doing, wasn’t always right and had absolutely no regrets at all”.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times