Nothing compares to you, Fachtna

by Ken Sweeney

Sinéad O'Connor rekindles working relationship with former lover who steered her to worldwide success

Sinead O'Connor has re-hired the manager and former lover who turned her into a global superstar. Working on material for her next album, O'Connor is once again being managed by Fachtna O'Ceallaigh, the former Boomtown Rats manager she split with around the time of her 1990 worldwide hit 'Nothing Compares 2 U'.

"It's brilliant myself and Fachtna are back working together because we have a long history with one another," O'Connor said. "He's an amazing character and his achievements in the Irish music business have been largely ignored."

O'Connor first met O'Ceallaigh, a former Evening Press journalist, after she moved to London in search of a recording contract in the late '80s. The pair were soon signed up by Ensign Records, which released O'Connor's 1987 debut album The Lion & The Cobra.

"I was 17 when I met Fachtna," O'Connor said. "He was nearly 40 but we were both very driven people and you can see that from what we achieved together." O'Connor and O'Ceallaigh began a love affair despite their considerable age difference.

"Fachtna was the first big love of Sinéad's life," said a source close to the singer, "and she was very affected by the split. This happened around the time of 'Nothing Compares 2 U'. Everyone remembers the close-ups of her crying in the video but while some of the tears were for her late mother, her split with Fachtna was also a factor in why she was so emotional."

O'Connor said: "Unfortunately when that [the relationship] broke down, we allowed our working relationship to break down too and I think we have always regretted that. In my own case I don't think I would have got into nearly as much trouble if Fachtna had remained my manager."

Trouble included a concert in New Jersey in 1990 when O'Connor refused to set foot onstage if the American national anthem was played, prompting Frank Sinatra to threaten that he would "kick her ass". She ripped up a picture of the Pope on US TV show Saturday Night Live in 1992 and declared on MTV that the US and England had a history of terrorism "no better than Saddam Hussein". She then denounced MTV as well.

Having topped the US single charts with her Prince cover and sold five million copies of her 1989 album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, Sinead chose spirituality over showbiz and in 1999 was ordained a priest by maverick bishop Michael Cox. Four years later she announced her retirement from the music business, saying she wanted a normal life.

Since then she has resumed her recording career and last year released her latest album, Theology, a collection of spiritual tunes.

Her new album might be a return to the sort of music that made her name, she said.

"After Theology, you can't keep making the same kind of record," she said.

"I'm not going to give away the theme but it won't be anything overtly religious."

The 42-year-old mother of four laughed off any suggestion that the relationship between her and O'Ceallaigh (60) might once again turn romantic.

"Definitely not. Fachtna is happily married and I'm very happy in my relationship. This time it's strictly business."

(c) Sunday Tribune August 24, 2008