Michaella McCollum's Facebook posts hailing dead IRA men as heroes
Drug mule said she 'fled Northern Ireland in 2013 due to sectarianism'... yet two years prior, she posts support for IRA - TV claims begin to unravel as damning Facebook message discovered
Drugs mule Michaella McCollum posted a pro-IRA message on social media which included a masked member of the Provisionals armed with an assault rifle.
The revelation comes after McCollum's claim that she was forced to leave Northern Ireland because of sectarian threats.
She posted the message two years before she was caught with £1.5m worth of cocaine in Lima airport.
The Dungannon drugs trafficker has attempted to reinvent herself since she was freed from a Peruvian prison last week after serving just over two years of her sentence.
In an RTE interview shortly after her release, Michaella suggested that following sectarian intimidation in 2013, she decided to flee overnight to Ibiza.
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that in February 2011, Michaella posted a message on Facebook paying tribute to dead IRA members.
The post commemorated the IRA men who were killed by the SAS at Loughgall in 1987.
It included a photograph of an IRA man in paramilitary clothing with a walkie-talkie radio and an assault rifle.
The text said: "In memory of eight gallant Irishmen who died fighting for Ireland's freedom at Loughgall, Co Armagh, on May 8th 1987."
Unionist politicians said Michaella's pro-IRA post exposed another uncomfortable truth about her.
TUV leader Jim Allister added: "The 'butter wouldn't melt in her mouth' veneer of the RTE interview is wearing rather thin. So much for the pious talk about eschewing sectarianism when in 2011 she was a willing promoter of hardcore IRA propaganda.
"Would the real Michaella McCollum please stand up? Drugs courier, IRA sympathiser, wannabe celebrity, or all three?"
DUP Assembly member Edwin Poots, added: "Most people won't be shocked that not only was Michaella McCollum prepared to bring large amounts of hard drugs into Europe, but that she was also sympathetic to the activities of terrorists.
"Had the eight IRA men in Loughgall that she honoured been successful, they would have taken many lives. Operating as one of the most deadly IRA units in East Tyrone, it is believed that they had already killed many people.
"That Ms McCollum sympathised with them is yet another demonstration of her antipathy to law and order."
The former DUP Health Minister also said he was shocked that Michaella had been freed from jail so early.
"I had hoped that she would serve substantially more of her prison sentence in Peru or, if not there, in a Northern Ireland jail," he added.
"The scale of her crime was significant and her attempt now to spin the 'innocent abroad' line does not wash with the public."
Ulster Unionist East Belfast assembly candidate Chris McGimpsey said: "Michaella McCollum was prepared to smuggle drugs which bring death and destruction, and now we learn that she was supporting the IRA who brought murder and mayhem to our streets.
"Discovering her real nature must be deeply disappointing to those who were so concerned about her plight in Peru."
Tyrone republicans who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph said they had "no time" for Michaella and were "disgusted" with her involvement in the drugs trade.
"We know only too well what drugs can do to communities," one of them added. "Nobody here was campaigning for her release."
In her RTE interview, Michaella claimed that she had made a decision to go to Ibiza "overnight" because of sectarian threats.
However, in a previous interview with the same documentary makers, her mother Norah said that her daughter had been planning to go to Ibiza since the beginning of 2013 against the wishes of her family.
Michaella repeatedly lied after she was caught with £1.5m worth of cocaine in Lima airport.
She claimed she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by drugs lords who had threatened her family. She later admitted this was untrue.