In The Public Interest



Michaella MCollum

Further to Michaella McCollum’s interview on RTÉ 1 last night following her release on parole for a drug smuggling conviction in Peru.

Journalist and broadcaster Philip O’Connor writes:

The following questions need to be answered, promptly and thoroughly:

1. Who initiated the story/interview – was it Michaella, the journalist on the ground, the RTÉ news desk, a book publisher, PR agency or similar?

2. Did Michaella, her family, her foundation or any other party connected with her receive any sort of compensation (including, but not limited to, cash, flights or accommodation) in return for her co-operation?

3. Did Michaella and/or her representatives promise RTÉ or their representatives exclusivity? If so, what did they receive in return?

4. Were there any demands or requirements made by Michaella or her representatives as to where, when and under what circumstances the interview would take place?

5. Did Michaella and/or her representatives refuse to answer particular questions, or seek a list of questions prior to the interview? If so, did RTÉ accede to those requests? Did the journalist on site decide the questions to be asked or was he instructed by the news desk?

6. Is there more than one take of any of Michaella answers to the questions posed?


Public interest demands that RTE answer questions on McCollum (Philip O’Connor, Our Man In Stockholm)

Michaella McCollum: Peru drug smuggler tells of ‘moment of madness’ (BBC)

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79 thoughts on “In The Public Interest

  1. kingo

    the thing I love it was deadly serious investigative journalist Trevor birney presiding over an interview worthy of a celeb chat show.

  2. Liam

    Presumably there are convicted drug dealers being released here every week – RTE could interview them without having to fly to Peru…

  3. Mark My Little Words He'll Be Back in RTE in 12 Months

    This IS NOT a matter of public interest. Nobody cares. And if she was paid, then she should have been. It’s her time.

    “Our Man in Stockholm”. Give me a break. Racism, forced sterlization, dull as ditchwater central and non Irish tax-paying ex-Pat demands answers. He’s not “our” man. What a loser. Wankër.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Tell you what, go read that article in the newswhip on this page from
      It contains a letter from a daughter of a drug addict.

      Wrong is wrong, regardless of who is pointing it out and RTE are dead wrong here.

      1. Anne

        That wan who wrote the letter sounded like a bit of a jealous wagon.. going on about Michaela’s hair and nails and looking good.

  4. mildred st. meadowlark

    No:2 RTE came out yesterday and said they never paid Michaela or her family for the interview. I’ll get the link now, if I can find it.

      1. Harry Molloy

        cool. nothing else matters really, its just a few questions and no ones life is at stake

    1. Andy McGowan

      RTE are being disingenuous. They paid a private company to undertake the interview. So technically they never paid the girl.

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        I saw that on my search for links. Almost every story that came up mentioned this. And the only mention I could find for my first statement was a tweet from RTE yesterday.

  5. Panty Christ

    Why does the national broadcaster hand over time to a convicted drug smuggler? Seriously. There’s a few paddys locked up in Asia at the moment for the same crime and haven’t been given the opportunity to persuade public opinion.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Because her initial trial got tonnes of attention for some reason and the media is more interested in generating money than educating people.

    1. Robert

      Well that’s how democracy works. Your opinion is only proportionally relevant to however many people share it, and then only if it’s a majority. Go back to reading Katie Hopkins.

    2. Tish Mahorey

      Nobody should care about most of your chavs with money mates either. Tell your rugger pals we don’t care about their pop-up restaurants which they then close down without paying suppliers and staff, only to open up again the next week. That’s REAL scumbag behaviour.

  6. dan

    Next week Slab Murphy discusses how you can get the most from your savings, in the public interest of course.

    It’s a sad day when a taxpayer funded broadcaster sees fit to give celeb status to a convicted drug smuggler.

    1. 15 cents

      i dont think they are giving her celeb status .. its a story that was interesting for a lot of people, like “banged up abroad” in real time. and now shes out, its of interest to see whats goin on now after. and as it turns out, its positive coz what shes saying is in effort to deter others from doin the same thing.

      1. ZeligIsJaded

        Maybe if they listen to her, there’ll be no more smuggling.

        They should air it in schools!!

        If enough kids watch it…etc.

        If even one kid doesn’t become a drug mule, then it will have made no difference on the international drugs trade.

        1. Robert

          Agree 100% with this. I’d say you’ll have very few Irish kids unwittingly becoming drugs mules after this.

  7. Optimus Grime

    You have to admit though, she looks great! I see a “Peruvian Jail Diet” book coming down the line!

  8. Anomanomanom

    So drug smuggling person is now trying to act the darling and Rte wasted how much money, maybe someone should tell them about phones or many of the free video chat apps available.

    1. Pandora

      Phones: Joe Duffy show. No thanks. Video chat: Skype, which is unreliable and never as good as face to face.

    2. Robert

      The cost of flying a reporter & minimal crew to peru for an interview that is (judging by the amount social media chatter) in the public interest is probably about equivalent to Ryan Tubridy’s salary for a week.

  9. Clampers Outside!

    She had £1.5m of cocaine. Let’s not forget that.

    I presume one cannot make money off of ones past crimes by writing books, doing interviews, movies, etc.

    Is that the case? I was of the impression that it was, can anyone confirm…

    1. ZeligIsJaded

      I hope she makes a fortune.

      She was good enough fodder for RTE when she was being pushed backwards and forwards in handcuffs facing a potential life time in a hell hole in Peru.

      What’s the problem now?

      Main issue seems to be that she’s doing so well.

      The bare faced cheek of her to be looking healthy. Thriving even!!

      1. Anne


        “Main issue seems to be that she’s doing so well. ” That seems to be the gist of it.. ‘look at her, looking so good, it’s not fair.’

  10. DubLoony

    Reasonable questions. The whole interview raked of PR makeover – show awareness of crime while going for the young/troubled angle.
    Don’t deny but show how you’ve changed.
    “moment” of madness included trip to holiday destination, arrangements for smuggling 11kg (24lb) of cocaine, passing through several airport security checks. That is a planned, pre-meditated operation, not a “moment” of madness.

    So annoyed about this manipulative tripe.

    1. Robert

      Why on earth would you begrudge her a makeover? After three years in prison? Would you expect her to do the interview in orange scrubs or something (Hint: She’s been released)? Idiot.

      1. Rafter

        Didn’t watch the interview but read that part of the release was because she had participated in training courses etc., one of which was hairdressing. Possible that’s why her hair’s a different colour and not part of a makeover for TV.

  11. 15 cents

    a journalist demands to know if a convicted criminal who did her time got paid for an interview? that’s a complete joke, the media are the ones who give airtime to gangters who havent been convited and are still out there. not only do they give them a soapbox to stand on and issue death threats to one another thru the newspapers they work for, but they give them their ‘cool’ nicknames too and glamourise what they do .. this girl has done her time, and i hope she was paid for the interview.

    1. Robert

      Yep. I was very interested to hear what she had to say. I have forgiveness in my heart and understand that anybody (esp a 20 y/o) can make mistakes. Also that there are two sides to every story and this is the first chance she’s had to air hers.

      1. 15 cents

        exactly! i know when i was 20 i was super stupid. people are comin down so hard on her over it. sayin ‘throw away the key’ and stuff like that, so lousy, and she’s clearly tryna change her ways which should be encouraged, instead of all this nasty vitriol.

  12. ahjayzis

    The Bun got out on license late last year and is keeping a low profile – working as a scouring pad for a greasy spoon in Buenos Aires to make amens. Far more contrite than it’s former host who’s only too keen to show she’s moved on to ‘fairer’ pastures after their acrimonious split/end. More on this story as it develops.

  13. pissedasanewt

    Wow, she looks completely different. A name change and she could slip back into society with nobody any the wiser… unless you ‘blow’ your cover and appear on tv..

  14. D2dweller

    How long until she’s making nightclub meet and greats in Sin and the Wright Venue

  15. Observer

    RTE have a press office.

    Surely the easiest way to get answers to those questions is to email them to them and then put the answer up here?

  16. Daisy Chainsaw

    Guys, guys, guys… You’re all missing the entire point of this. Michaella is the REAL victim in all this. She made a wee mistake and is weally weally sowwy now. (swishes fancy blonde hair in penance).

    Please sent all cheques, postal orders, appearance fees to her Agent.

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      Michaella can’t leave her South American paradise for another few years under the conditions of her release, but Melissa wants to serve the rest of her sentence from Scotland so she is still in prison, as far as I know.

  17. Tired old refrain

    She looks absolutely fantastic

    fair play to her with her new look and fresh start in life

  18. sendog

    a moment of madness?!!

    like planing and buying your tickets, flying for perhaps 10 to 12 hours to Peru, waiting a few days to meet the dealers, packaging the drugs into food products, staying in a hotel for a few more days.

    yes, a single moment of madness!! lol!

  19. some old queen

    They way some people are blood pressured, it’s like Michaella was a drug baron. She was not. She was a young somewhat naive person who done something really stupid. She agreed to carry a large amounts of drugs for a risk relative small amount of money.

    But, she also impressed the judge enough to be very lenient. Among other things she is now a fluent Spanish speaker or at least enough to be released back into their society. There is clearly a lot more going on in that head that just hairdressing.

    She learned her lesson so give the girl a break and if you don’t like the way she now looks then that is your problem, not hers. C U in The George when you get home honey.

  20. Mark My Little Words He'll Be Back in RTE in 12 Months

    The number of people who might have been harmed had those drugs reached the street pales into insignificance compare with the harm done by alcohol, so frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Good luck to her.

    1. some old queen

      Just a guess but maybe alcohol harms more people because it is more available? Google ‘heroin in Iran’ if you want read about the reverse which is also not relevant to this thread.

  21. Frilly Keane

    I hope ta’ûpp she did get paid
    Why shouldn’t she?
    News outlets had no problem plastering her all over their shop floors when she was charged

    She’s done her time
    She’s not crying about it and blaming the other ‘wan

    And I’m glad she’s come out the other end of her sentence looking fit n’well

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