Sinead and the Famine

Issue 

Sinead and the Famine

Universal Mother
Sinead O'Connor
Ensign
Reviewed by Tyrion Perkins

Sinead O'Connor's latest album begins with Germaine Greer speaking about women making politics irrelevant by a spontaneous cooperative action. "The opposite to patriarchy isn't matriarchy but fraternity." She says women are going to have to "find the trick to cooperation". The album also has quotes about the "Goddess" on the inlay.

The songs are a different style from her other albums, some softer and all very beautiful, yet still full of emotion, which is what I like about her albums. One song I find particularly appealing is "Read Football", which is a strong and threatening song about a woman saying she is not going to be kicked around.

"Famine" is a rap song about what really happened in Ireland: "... there was no famine. See Irish people were only allowed to eat potatoes, all of the other food, meat fish vegetables, were shipped out of the country under armed guard to England while the Irish people starved. And then in the middle of all this they gave us money not to teach our children Irish."

Despite this clear start, O'Connor goes on to blame all the social problems in Ireland on this event. She compares the Irish to a child who's been battered. They engage in self-destructive behaviour because they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

Her solution is to worship God as a mother and for everyone to remember, grieve and forgive. While it is important people do know the truth, she does not recognise that exploitation and its associated repression and killing continue today. They are not caused by the "famine" but are a continuation of the exploitation that caused it, and this is what needs to be stopped. At the end of the song there is part of a speech by Jack Lynch in 1970, who says there is no real invader and the Irish should only show tolerance and love to each other.

Despite the lack of political understanding and its religious aspects, this is an album I can listen to over and over again.

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