By Eileen Murphy
Embattled Irish singer Sinead O’Connor made headlines around the world a few weeks ago with her frank appreciation of President Clinton’s sex appeal and her odd interpretation of the impeachment process — "Is he a peach?" she queried — is fighting a new battle. We hear that the follicle-challenged chanteuse was recently investigated — and completely cleared — by London social welfare authorities after allegations were made about the manner in which she cares for her children, particularly her 3-year-old daughter, Roisin.
Upon being cleared of any wrongdoing, O’Connor issued a statement, charging that the investigation was prompted by charges which were "without foundation."
"Anyone who knows me personally will know that I am and always have been a conscientious, loving and devoted parent to both my children," she said.
O’Connor has an 11-year-old son, Jake, from her marriage to former husband John Reynolds. She was not married to Roisin’s father, Irish Times journalist John Waters, and under Irish law, this gives Waters a severely limited say in how his daughter is raised. In a number of columns, Waters has bemoaned the lack of rights, such as shared guardianship and automatic access, granted to non-marital fathers.
Authorities have not identified the person who made the allegations against O’Connor, but it is clear that the singer believes that her ex-beau Waters is "the individual who made these complaints . . . in a deliberate attempt to hurt me both personally and professionally."
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O’Connor plans to take legal action: "I will be suing for filing a malicious report and suing him for putting it in the papers, for the damage done to my career and family life," she said.
In an interview with London’s Daily Mirror, an angry O’Connor said that she believed that "John Waters was the individual who made these complaints," and that if she got in the same room as him, "I’ll give him such a punch in the stomach he won’t forget."
O’Connor also alleged that Waters "used me like a battery hen," because he was "desperate to have children."
The unfounded allegations of child abuse cut close to home for O’Connor, who suffered from abuse at the hands of her late mother. The custody battle between O’Connor’s parents, in which her father sought sole custody of Sinead and her siblings, set a precedent in Irish legal circles. O’Connor’s infamous mutilation of the pope’s photo on "Saturday Night Live" was prompted by her belief that the Catholic church did little to address the problems of child abuse in Ireland, and within her own family.
Nun’s the word
It seems a bit like carrying coals to Newcastle, but we’re tickled to hear that actress Maripat Donovan is bringing her hit one-woman show, "Late Night Catechism," to Ireland.
The interactive show, in which Donovan stars as a nun and the audience members becomes her "students," has been a hit in New York, and has played all over the world.
"I can’t wait to come to Dublin," Donovan told the Sunday World. "I’m tough but fair to my class, and I’ll be encouraging them to ask questions, as it is an interactive comedy."
Dubliners can look forward to some plain talking from the good "Sister."
"I’ll be telling them all about the facts of life — one of the most important things that everyone should remember is that God is always watching!" she said, laughing. Sigh. She sounds like all the nuns who taught at Holy Spirit . . .
Cookin’ up a hit
Lock up the children and all adults of delicate sensibilities! The raunchy, disgusting and wickedly funny animated hit "South Park" is a hit in holy mother Ireland! It’s so popular, in fact, that a song from the show’s record album, "Chef Aid," has become the number one single on the Irish pop charts. The title? "Chocolate Salty Balls." (Are these the same charts that list Daniel O’Donnell?)
Expect that Salmon Rushdie/U2 collaboration, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," to be released as a single in mid-April. This seems a pretty clear indication that the long-awaited new album (by U2, not Rushdie) can’t be far behind . . .
In more U2 news, we hear that the band will take part in the All-Star Tribute to Johnny Cash, which will be held in April at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Also walking the line for the 67 year-old Cash, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, will be Lyle Lovett, Trisha Yearwood, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen. No word yet about tickets, but we’ll keep you up-to-date . . .
Oscar snubs Paddy
Well, it’s all over but the shouting, and we’re sorry to say that the year’s biggest Irish Movies, "The General" and "Dancing at Lughnasa," are conspicuously absent from this year’s Oscar nominations.
Though "Lughnasa" failed to thrill critics (or audiences), most expected Meryl Streep to get a nod from Oscar, if only for mastering the tricky Donegal accent. In fact, Streep was nominated, but it was her performance in the popular tear-jerker "One True Thing" that ensured her a good seat at the ceremony this year. Joining Meryl in the finalists circle are Cate Blanchett for her performance in "Elizabeth," Fernanda Montenegro in "Central Station," Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakespeare in Love" and Emily Watson in "Hilary and Jackie."
Critics raved over Brendan Gleeson’s performance as the amoral but fascinating crime boss in John Boorman’s "The General," but voters preferred Roberto Benigni in "Life is Beautiful," Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan," Ian McKellen in "Gods and Monsters," Nick Nolte in "Affliction" and Edward Norton in "American History X."
Of course, if you need an Irish connection to keep you interested in the Oscars, take heart; best picture nominee "Saving Private Ryan" was filmed in Ireland, and featured Irish American actor/director Ed Burns. Joining "Ryan" in the category are "Elizabeth," "Life is Beautiful," "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Thin Red Line."