Belfast Telegraph

Michaella McCollum, from drugs mule to clerical worker - priest lines up office job

By 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.

Reporters tracked down the drug trafficker in Lima on Sunday.

Accompanied by her mother Nora, brother Keith and other family and friends, the aspiring model and her entourage fled when approached by reporters.

The news comes after Fr Walsh's 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 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," said Fr Walsh.

"She will be learning to use Coral Draw (graphic design software) to help me put together our magazine.

"In time she will hopefully be teaching my parishioners English as a foreign language.

"There will be other clerical tasks but that will be it for the foreseeable future."

McCollum was released on Thursday after serving two-and-a-half years in Ancon Dos female prison located in the harsh Peruvian desert outside of city.

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 had no contact with McCollum since her release.

"I have yet to hear from Michaella," he said.

"But she is always welcome to come on and to 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."

And Fr Gallagher added: "It would be great if she worked with them."

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