Mark Feehily stands down from Westlife due to ill health

The gay singer has battled health issues for the last number of years, and must now prioritise his recovery.

Westlife singer Mark Feehily posing for a photo in Capetown. He stands on a balcony, with palm trees visible in the background. He smiles and wears sunglasses.
Image: @markusmoments via Instagram

Mark Feehily has announced that he must “temporarily stand down” from Westlife as a result of recent health difficulties. The gay Irish singer shared the news in a social media statement, published on Wednesday, February 28.

In the post, he shared that his health battle began in August 2020, when he got “severe ‘Sepsis’, a life threatening infection” due to a surgical complication. He spent the following few months in hospital during Covid-19 lockdowns and was not allowed to see his fiancé Cailean O’Neill or daughter Layla.

“It was physically and mentally a very difficult time, not to mention traumatic having to spend so long in ICU,” he said.

“I was eventually discharged from hospital in December 2020 but I have had ongoing medical problems as a result of it all.”

In late 2021, Feehily developed pneumonia while touring and regrettably had to miss the rest of the concerts that December. He underwent further surgery in May 2022, which meant he was forced to pull out of more of Westlife’s The Wild Dreams run.

“Three months after that surgery, I tried my best to soldier on for you guys and to go back on tour but unfortunately the physical demands of the concerts and extensive travel were proving too much for me,” he explained.

“I developed a very large ‘incisional hernia’ and I was told that I needed further surgery to fix it. This would be my fourth major surgery since the start of it all, but I had no option.”

Mark has since had the operation, which thankfully “went according to plan”, but the Westlife star confirmed that his recovery must be his “absolute priority at this time”.

“It is with the upmost level of regret that I must now temporarily stand down from all Westlife touring until a time that I have had the chance to fully recover from the turbulent journey I have been through as an individual. Believe me, I wish things could be different!” Feehily wrote.

“I would like to thank you so very much for your support and understanding of me and my health over the past few years.”



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A post shared by Mark Feehily (@markusmoments)

He also thanked his family and friends, as well as all the medical staff who supported him through “the most challenging of times”, and to his bandmates, he said: “I love you three and I know you’ll knock it out of the park. I’ll be there with you in spirit for each and every show whilst you continue to fly the Westlife flag around the world.”

Addressing fans, the 43-year-old concluded: “I’m so devastated that I won’t be there to celebrate the upcoming concerts with you and the 3 lads. I hope you know and understand that I should have been there (I was so excited to be there!) and that I look forward to seeing you all again to make some more magic in the future. But for now, I have to make the right decision for my health and wellbeing, for my family, and for myself as a person. Please don’t worry.

“Sending the most positive vibes in your direction, I will see you very soon beautiful people!” he signed off.

Following the announcement, the rest of Westlife showed their support for Feehily, saying: “We would like to take this opportunity to send our brother, best friend and fellow bandmate, Mark, so many well wishes as he takes the necessary time he needs to recover.

“Mark has been so strong in continuing to show up on stage despite going through such a turbulent time with his health and we completely respect that he must now focus on getting better so he can return to the stage when he is fit and well to do so!”

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