Friday 28 July 2017

McCollum to work in 'clerical capacity' for American bishop who backed early parole

Fr Gallagher confirmed that he had yet to hear from McCollum since her release. Photo: Mark Condren
Fr Gallagher confirmed that he had yet to hear from McCollum since her release. Photo: Mark Condren
Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

The bishop who advocated for the early parole of convicted drug mule Michaella McCollum has said she will now work in a clerical capacity with his office.

Fr Sean Walsh has said that the 23-year-old will help him with the parish magazine and other tasks.

The news comes after his pledge that the Northern Irish woman would help people suffering from HIV and Aids in the Peruvian capital.

American Fr Walsh, who serves as bishop of the Armenian Eastern Orthodox Church in the city, had said the embattled young drug runner would be helping fight the scourge of the Lima's growing epidemic.

However, speaking yesterday, he said this was "probably unlikely" now.

"I spoke with Michaella today and she has asked me not to speak to the media," he said.

But when pushed on her future he said she would be working with him. "She will be working with me in a clerical capacity," he said.

"She will be learning to use CorelDRAW (graphic design software) to help me out with our magazine. In time she will hopefully be teaching my parishioners English as a foreign language," he added. "There will be other clerical tasks but that will be it for the foreseeable future."

McCollum was released at 5pm on Thursday after serving just over two-and-a-half years in Ancon Dos female prison located in the harsh Peruvian desert outside Lima.

The Dungannon woman was expected to volunteer with Irish Catholic Priest Fr Cathal Gallagher at his HIV and Aids centre.

However, Fr Gallagher confirmed that he had yet to hear from McCollum since her release.

"I have yet to hear from Michaella," he said. "But she is always welcome to come and volunteer with us.

"The skills she acquired in beauty training in prison will be put to good use.

"We hope she can pass on her learning to some of the women who have been affected by HIV and Aids. It would be great if she worked with them."

Meanwhile, a PR expert has suggested the convicted drug smuggler was carefully coached prior to her TV interview.

Sonia Harris, MD of Harris PR, also criticised the soft interview, saying "she would probably have benefited from answering a few hard questions".

"But she clearly had taken advice on how to do her hair and make-up and appeared like a demure person," Ms Harris said.

"But she did do a soft interview and she would probably have benefited from answering a few hard questions.

"That would have been better for her in the long run as she will still have to face those hard questions from the media at some stage."

She said the convicted criminal could profit from her crimes, warning she could make €100,000 by penning a book.

She said she would "hate" to see the convict cashing in on her new-found fame but warned it was a possibility.

Irish Independent

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