'Let Republic foot bill for drugs mule Michaella's Peru jail transfer' - says UKIP
Published 10/08/2014 | 19:22
A politician from UKIP is says the Irish Government should foot the bill for Michaella McCollum Connolly's prison transfer.
Prison bosses are refusing to comment after Ukip Assemblyman David McNarry asked who will be meeting the cost of Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum's prison stay when she returns to Northern Ireland.
Mr McNarry said the Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs had been instrumental in the transfer of the 21-year-old – who carries an Irish passport – and as such the matter of Northern Ireland footing the bill for those calling themselves Irish, and travelling on Republic of Ireland passports, should be reviewed.
A Northern Ireland Prison Service spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph: "We don't normally comment on individual cases. All transfer requests are, however, dealt with as expeditiously as possible."
Mr McNarry was commenting after confirmation that she will serve the remainder of the six-year, eight month sentence handed down last year in Peru in Northern Ireland.
That is likely to be at Ash House women's unit at Hydebank Wood in south Belfast. It is expected the transfer could take a number of months to complete.
McCollum and her accomplice Melissa Reid, from Scotland, were jailed last year after they admitted trying to smuggle cocaine worth more than £1.5m from Peru to Spain.
They were caught with the haul hidden in food packaging during a luggage search at Lima Airport.
McCollum and Reid initially claimed they had been kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to carry the drugs, but later admitted the charges.
Earlier this week McCollum's Belfast-based lawyer Kevin Winters said: "Last week we received confirmation from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that the Peruvian authorities had accepted Michaella's prison transfer request and in turn passed this to the UK National Offender Management Service.
Meanwhile, Mr McNarry said the prison switch raised questions, including who will be meeting the cost of her incarceration in Northern Ireland.
He said: "No doubt Michaella's parents are relieved that she is being transferred from Peru, as any parents would be.
"But surely the issue of so-called 'dual nationality' will be looked at by David Ford and the matter of Northern Ireland footing the bill for those calling themselves Irish, and travelling on Republic of Ireland passports, will be reviewed.
"I would call for dual nationality to be scrapped," he added.