First Minister designate Michelle O’Neill has hit out at the new British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who has approved a controversial certificate that will conceal information about the death of a 14-year-old Belfast schoolboy.
The body of Noah Donohoe was found in a storm drain in North Belfast in June 2020, six days after he went missing after leaving his home to cycle across town to meet his friends.
One of Secretary of State Shailesh Vara’s first acts after taking up his post was to sign a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate which will limit the release of files on Noah’s death. Under the PII, material will be made available in limited form to interested parties at a preliminary inquest hearing.
PII’s are typically only used in paramilitary cases or to protect informers. Noah’s inquest is due to take place in November.
A large rally is to take place at Belfast City Hall this Saturday in support of the Donohoe family with members of the public becoming increasingly frustrated with the PSNI’s handling of the case.
Michelle O’Neill said she has written to Mr. Vara making it clear that the use of a PII is “totally unacceptable”.
“We are talking about the tragic death of a 14-year-old child, his family deserves to have truth and transparency on what happened to this little boy.”
She added: “The application should be withdrawn immediately.
“I will continue to support Noah’s mum and his family every step of the way in their search for truth, transparency and accountability.”
Appealing for the public to support Saturday’s rally in Belfast, Noah’s aunt, Niamh Donohoe, said: "This legislation is a gagging of vital information which should be disclosed fully in order to uncover the truth of what happened to our beautiful Noah that fateful day.
"We demand that this process be halted and these signatures revoked. The final say on PII now lies with the Coroner Mr. Joe McCrisken.
"Join Fiona, myself and a few key speakers and stand in solidarity with us against this abhorrent abuse of power.
"Be Noah's voice. Give Fiona the truth. We need to fight against this PII and fight for the safety of all our children. We need you all on the streets now more than ever."
A large protest in support of the family took place in Strabane, County Tyrone, last week, the home town of Noah’s mother, Fiona.