The mother of a Catholic teenager who was chased, attacked and robbed by loyalist youths this summer has spoken out over the PSNI’s refusal to properly investigate the death of 14-year-old Noah Donohoe.
Noah, a mixed-race teenager from a nationalist background, was cycling through north Belfast when he disappeared in the same area. His disappearance prompted a major search operation, with hundreds of people from across Belfast involved. His body was recovered from a storm drain six days later.
Despite a number of attacks and threats to nationalist children in the Shore Road area in the preceding weeks, the PSNI have always insisted Noah’s death was not a result of foul play.
The PSNI have promoted a theory that Noah suffered a personality change, causing him to discard his valuables, clothing and bicycle, before running between homes and entering the storm drain where he perished.
However, Noah’s observed actions are more consistent with those of a teen acting out of fear of being imminently set upon.
A petition to urge the Police Ombudsman to investigate the PSNI’s actions in the case has now been signed by a record 51,000 people.
The mother of Flynn Maguire, who was the victim of a sectarian assault and robbery while cycling in the same Shore Road area the month before Noah was found dead, spoke out this week.
In a Facebook post, she described her son as the “the boy who got away” and called for a full investigation into both attacks. “Who’s going to be next?” she wrote.
Clare Hughes posted a picture of her injured son recovering after his terrifying encounter with a loyalist gang, but whose attackers have still not been identified.
“This is my son as I’m sure some will remember this happened several weeks before Noah disappeared in the same area. The fear in his eyes is haunting,” she wrote. “He was chased by a crowd, only he knew where to go to get away.”
She said she had gotten “nothing” from the PSNI and was told until she gets evidence, there’s nothing they can do.
“I have given a name that has been given to me by several people of the man who pushed him, but yet again I need to get more evidence.
“No working CCTV apart from one that shows my son making his escape to run several miles home in this state yet again no witnesses.
“The dogs in the street know these people are being protected and we are meant to sit back and accept that. Our children are not safe on our streets because of this.”
She called on those in the area who she said have been threatened to speak out.
“I have remained silent about this for too long not wanting to tread on Noah’s platform. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the ones who assaulted my son will never be brought to justice but I plead with the public to not let Noah’s death be the same.”
Ms Hughes also called on the public to challenge local politicians who she said had “turned a blind eye” in fear of “something kicking off”. There have also been suggestions that the authorities in Belfast and London do not want a black nationalist child to become known internationally as the ‘last’ victim of the conflict.
At a court hearing in Belfast last week, the PSNI said they are “investigating health and safety concerns” in regard to Noah’s entry into the storm drain, but not criminal involvement.
Noah’s grieving mother Fiona Donohoe has said she would not allow her son’s death to be buried by a health and safety issue.
“The PSNI are investigating ‘safety’ issues,” she wrote. “How very good of them. How about investigating how a naked child ends up in a storm drain. A kid who was seen by his Mum on CCTV running exhausted up the street where he was last seen. What was he running from?”
She urged people not to be deceived by “subheadlines” from a court where she was forced to wait an hour in silence for a brief review. “I will continue to ask for answers ...whatever they are.. I just want to know what happened that my beautiful Noah never came home to me.”