A convoy of over a thousand vehicles took place around Belfast in support of the family of teenager Noah Donohoe on Thursday night as concerns mount over PSNI failings and possible collusion in the stalled investigation into his death.
The 14-year-old mixed-race boy from a nationalist background went missing on June 21 last year while cycling to a park north of the city to meet up with friends. His body was found in a storm drain in a loyalist area of north Belfast six days later, not far from where another nationalist child had been attacked and robbed while out cycling in a sectarian attack the previous month.
A post-mortem examination found that Noah, from south Belfast, had died as a result of drowning. Gathered CCTV footage showed him abandoning his bicycle, possessions and clothing before entering the drain, possibly in response to a still unidentified threat.
A suspect with family links to loyalism, Daryl Paul, has admitted trying to sell some of Noah’s possessions in the days following his disappearance. He was released on bail on a charge of theft, before being returned to jail amid a public outcry over breaches to his bail conditions.
The teenager’s mother, Fiona Donohoe, has led a campaign to establish what happened to Noah, but a limited and hostile PSNI ‘investigation’ has so far delivered only more questions.
A petition by over 60,000 people to the Police Ombudsman for a proper investigation has failed to deliver a positive response. There is also growing anger at the Minister for Justice, Alliance leader Naomi Long, who has so far offered Noah’s mother only a public relations exercise in the form of a pointless meeting.
The organisers of Thursday’s convoy in support of Noah asked people to join the family “in a show of support for our ongoing fight for the truth”. Members of the public also lined the route to offer their support with many clapping as the convoy made its way past while others held blue balloons, signs and posters.
Ms Donohoe expressed her gratitude to the hundreds of people who joined her outside the gates of Stormont, where she placed a message demanding answers over what happened to Noah. She told those gathered that she was looking for the truth.
“All I want is for an investigation, a thorough investigation for my son, for every child in Northern Ireland,” she said. “Every parent should know their child should be able to go out and come home safely.”