23 August 2013 One Comment by The Northern Standard

Public representative Seamus Treanor has leapt to the defence of the image of the Mullaghmatt housing estate in Monaghan Town after disparaging references were made to the area in a national newspaper’s coverage of the Michaella McCollum Connolly case.

Monaghan-born Michaella (20), of Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and her Glaswegian friend 19-year-old Melissa Reid have been in the centre of the international media spotlight after their arrest in Peru for allegedly attempting to smuggle €1.7 million worth of cocaine out of the country.

The drugs were found in parcels which the women attempted to bring with them on a flight to Madrid.
The women allege they were threatened by a criminal gang and forced to carry out the act.

The story received extensive coverage in last Saturday’s edition of the Irish Daily Mail, which carried an interview by Louise Eccles with the women as they were held in custody in Lima.

Accompanying the interview was a background piece on Ms McCollum Connolly by Catherine Fegan, which ran under the headline: “Michaella’s journey…from shabby estate to the clubs and fleshpots of Ibiza”.
In the article Ms Fegan writes: “Born in Monaghan on June 27, 1993, Michaella McCollum Connolly spent most of her early years growing up ‘across the border’.

“The youngest in the family, Miss McCollum Connolly is one of nine children.

“The McCollums lived in a small two-storey house in Mullaghmatt, the largest social housing estate in Monaghan town.

“A highly disadvantaged area, residents in the area live under the shadow of crime, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.”

Reacting to the article this week, Colr Treanor, an Independent member of Monaghan Town and Monaghan Co Council, said: “It was very disappointing for the people of Monaghan Town to read a story in the Irish Daily Mail written by Catherine Fegan last Saturday, August 17.

“The journalist came to Monaghan to investigate the background of Michaella McCollum Connolly, who at present is under arrest in Peru on drug smuggling charges.

“As we all know, Michaella spent her early years in the Mullaghmatt estate, and this journalist went for the lowest form of journalism in her description of Mullaghmatt, describing the estate as one where the residents were highly disadvantaged and living under the shadow of crime, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.

“I have to refute her allegation that the residents of the estate are living under these conditions.”

Colr Treanor said that, in Teach na nDaoine, Mullaghmatt had one of the finest Family Resource Centres in the country, and pointed out that the area had undergone significant regeneration in recent times, and had been the subject of substantial investment through a Dept of Housing Remedial Scheme which had corrected structural defects in a number of houses there and led to a considerable improvement in the environment of the estate.

He was critical of the fact that a photograph of Mullaghmatt accompanying the Mail’s story appeared to have been taken a number of years ago, before the regeneration works were carried out.

“Mullaghmatt has a very active residents’ association and the services of a Tenant Liaison Officer, and the people who live there are very proud of their homes and their estate,” Colr Treanor added.
“I would like to see the journalist Ms Fegan revisit the area and see at first-hand the community spirit among its residents.”

• It was reported yesterday that Ms McCollum Connolly and Ms Reid had now been formally charged with trying to smuggle cocaine out of Peru.

The prosecutor’s office in Callao near Lima said the women faced a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

The women have spent the last two weeks in custody, and are now expected to be transferred to prison to await their trial.

It is anticipated that both will enter not guilty pleas and will apply for bail.

Some media sources reported that if refused bail they could be held for up to three years in prison before their case comes to hearing.

Ms McCollum’s solicitor Peter Madden told journalists that he had not received formal notice that his client had been charged.

He also stated that Ms McCollum Connolly’s brother had not been given permission to visit her in custody.

One Comment »

  • michael said:

    there noting wrong with mullaghmatt as many people know as many good person was rare their and have done very well for them self’s. it the like off narrow minded people that look down their noise at other’s well folks we all go out the same way as we come in just because those narrow minded individuals want to be ignorant. but the people of mullaghmatt where always Label anyway because of ignorant people because their afraid off what they don’t know and what they don’t see. just because someone live their at one time in their life time doesn’t mean that everybody is the same. because if that the case we all know the different between right and wrong and what people don’t know their afraid off. the people of mullaghmatt are respectable as the narrow minded ones.