Friday 24 January 2020

Michael O'Doherty: Michaella's drug smuggling looks like it's going to pay off for her after all

Michael O'Doherty

I Swapped Cocaine for God." Even among the litany of nauseating, self-pitying comments that have spewed forth within a few hours of Michaella McCollum's release from a Peruvian prison, that headline - which adorned the front page of one Sunday newspaper - really stood out.

"Michaella is reading a Bible that I had bought her. She's really come to the Lord seriously," said Archbishop Sean Walsh, the priest with whom she will live in Peru as part of her release conditions.

Michaella was also given airtime by RTE last night, in which she reminded everyone who was the victim in all this.

"I've forgotten the things that everybody takes for granted in this life," she said of her time in jail. "Seeing the sun, seeing the moon and the stars ... "


Doesn't your heart bleed for the poor, misguided northern lassie? Well, now that you ask...

Let's be clear about one thing. Michaella has confessed to the stupidity of her actions not because of an exposure to the effects of drug dealing or some blinding revelation that she was part of an industry that wreaks misery on countless people worldwide. She has repented because she was caught.

If Michaella and her equally idiotic partner-in-crime Melissa Reid hadn't been picked up, do you think they'd be racked with guilt over their actions? Or do you think that they'd still be sitting on a beach in southern Spain, considering whether or not to do it again for a quick buck?

Sure, Michaella acknowledged that: "I could have caused a lot of harm to people."

A cynic, however, might suggest that Michaella's remorse is to do with keeping an eye on the long term.

Literary agent Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin said Michaella had "an incredible story to tell" that "could be of huge interest to the publishing industry".

In a newspaper interview yesterday - apparently unperturbed by the moral dubiousness of hyping up the career prospects of someone caught smuggling €1.8m of cocaine - Ms O'Loughlin said "if it sold well, she could potentially sell the movie rights. It's impossible to say what that might mean in financial terms".


Well let me save Vanessa the trouble of putting a figure on it, by pointing out the ultimate irony of this tawdry story. In all likelihood, Michaella is going to be rewarded for her drug-dealing exploits with sums far greater than were ever on offer from the dealers who employed her in the first place.

Archbishop Walsh hit the nail on the head when he alluded to the fact that "maybe one day she'll be inspired to write up her personal testimony of what happened and what went wrong, and how the Lord helped her pick up the pieces of her life". In return for a big, fat advance and movie rights ...

So, if and when Michaella sells her story, and it gets made into a movie, the Irish public should show their disapproval in the only way possible. Don't buy the book, and don't watch the movie.

Because where's the deterrent for drug smugglers if they know, one way or another, they're going to profit from it?

Online Editors

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