Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Isn’t Sinead O’Connor overdue a massive, grovelling apology from absolutely everybody?

In 1992, Sinead O’Connor ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live as a protest against paedophilia in the Catholic Church and the complicity of the church hierarchy. It was viewed as an act of career suicide. The following day, steamrollers crushed hundreds of her CDs outside Rockefeller Center to huge cheers from protesters. On the next SNL, presenter Joe Pesci quipped that “if it had been my show, I would have gave her such a smack.”

A few days later, O’Connor was booed off the stage at a Bob Dylan Tribute in Madison Square Garden. (That last clip is particularly well worth watching, by the way, both for the virulence of the abuse directed towards her, and the courage with which she stands up to it.) It wasn’t just in American that she was dismissed as a crank. Lest we forget, in this episode of Father Ted she was parodied as a bonkers feminist making any number of preposterous allegations against the Catholic Church. (Among them, that the church kept a secret hoard of potatoes during the famine, which they hid in pillows and sold abroad at potato fairs… Okay, that’s still funny!)

It won’t have troubled her unduly, but in the interest of disclosure, I should admit to having myself written spoof articles for The Slate magazine in Dublin in which – following her shock, rapid-fire conversions to lesbianism, Rastafarianism and the Catholic priesthood – she outed herself as, amongst other things, the elusive mastermind behind the September 11th terror attacks. It was unanimous. We all thought she was nuts.

Well, she wasn’t nuts. In fact, even the most outlandish allegations O’Connor made against the Catholic Church eighteen years ago seem pretty tame in comparison to what we now know to have occurred. And in the wake of the most recent wave of revelations, which have implicated the current Pope, the US media seems belatedly to have acknowledged as much.

On Friday, she contributed this well written op-ed piece to the Washington Post (Damien Rice, take note!) and discussed her views with readers in this online Q&A. The same day, she spoke articulately about the abuse scandal in Ireland, via a dodgy laptop hookup, with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

But no one to date (that I’m aware of) has apologised to Sinead O’Connor for the ridicule heaped upon her, as a result of her having the courage to speak out on this issue long before it was fashionable to do so. So let me be the first. Sinead, I apologise. We were wrong. You were right. And you had more balls than anyone I’ve ever seen. In the words of one of our mutual heroes If it was a big, big tree, you were a small axe…

March 28th, 2010.

109 Responses to “Isn’t Sinead O’Connor overdue a massive, grovelling apology from absolutely everybody?”

  1. Duke Rourschach Says:

    I was watching that night and having known a bit of what she was pointing at I still didn’t give her credit and Now THANK YOU Sinead and I’m SORRY We didn’t stand up as Bravely as you did that took REAL BRAVERY AND SELFLESSNESS and I’m PROUD OF YOU and Hope that We can ALL be there for you like you were there for us TRUE BEAUTY INSIDE AND OUT THANK YOU••DUKE R.••

  2. Serendipity Says:

    Knowing now how Catholic church misbehaved for many years and covered up their criminal misdoing I understand the anger expressed by Sinaed tearing up the pope.

    Many people hurt will have known what she meant, many more were ignorant. Where Dylan has protested many wrongdoings, one would expect his audience to be more reflective. Apparently in Madison they were just ignorant. I feel sorry for the very talented young woman that took a stand and I feel ashamed for how she was treated

  3. Cord Bullard Says:

    I don’t have to apologise to her because I believed her and wholeheartedly agreed with her. She’s always been right on in my book. Love you Sinead!!!

  4. ZZim Says:

    Honestly, as a non-practicing, cultural Catholic, I was offended by her behavior and I was immensely gratified by Joe Pesci’s subsequent defense of the Pope the following week.

    I thought Mr. Pesci was awesome and, in retrospect, I still do. Google it, it’s on YouTube. Like everything else.

  5. Antizzim Says:

    So Zzim you agree with the Catholic Church raping kids then. That’s wonderful.

  6. Less Trump, more weirdness: how Saturday Night Live can fix itself | Television & radio – Pan Dart Says:

    […] taste, but if SNL is going to start handing out apologies to people on that front, there are others far more deserving of one than the representative from […]

  7. The Doctor Says:

    No, I don’t think she is. Her behavior was inexcusable, whatever the crimes committed by members of the Catholic Church, or those who chose to cover it up. That’s no different than someone who has a problem with what some members of Christianity have done tearing up a picture of Christ, or a person who has a problem with Islam tearing up a picture of Mohammed. Some things are in poor taste, no matter how “good” your reasons may be. She was there to entertain – not use it as a platform for her own political statement to be used on a captive audience. Save that for your OWN show, and your OWN time.

  8. Emily Hackett Says:

    Well, since he’s a Saint in Heaven and she’s…not. Yet, anyway…No, I don’t think she is owed an apology. I do think she owes an apology to the Catholics around the world she offended and angered with that display. I’m glad people rose up and showed her how they felt.

  9. Gmore Says:

    I saw the SNL show and CHEERED.

    I thought she was a hero then, and I think she is a hero now.

    I hope she gets many apologies.

    Yes, I know I’m a humble person. 😉

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