An appalling vista has opened up for policing in the north of Ireland after the PSNI reportedly ignored a confession that a 14-year-old mixed-race Catholic boy, Noah Donohoe, was abducted and murdered in a loyalist area of Belfast.
Six days after his disappearance while cycling near a loyalist area of north Belfast just over a year ago, Noah’s naked body was found deep inside a storm drain.
The PSNI has previously claimed that the promising student had died due to suffering a personality change after falling off his bike. The coroner in the continuing inquest has also declared that there was no foul play involved in Noah’s death, and joined with the PSNI to demand an end to public discussion of the matter.
However, an extraordinary campaign built around Noah’s mother, Fiona (right), and her sister, Niamh, seems closer to finding the real truth behind his disappearance and death.
The family has now called for a full and proper investigation into a Sunday World report which stated that a prisoner has spoken of killing the south Belfast schoolboy and disposing of his body.
The individual made the reported admissions to another prisoner, but remains in prison and could have been spoken to by the PSNI to either discount the allegations or progress the ongoing investigation into Noah’s death. However, it is understood he was not contacted for over a month.
The barrister for the Donohoe family, Brenda Campbell QC, told a preliminary hearing in the inquest on Wednesday that the PSNI’s failure to act on the information caused them “great anxiety”.
“It’s an anxiety not just because of the content, but it’s an anxiety associated with what’s being done about it and whether or not it’s being properly investigated,” she added.
Ms Campbell sought clarity that the investigation is being treated as a criminal matter after a PSNI statement said they were investigating on behalf of the coroner.
North Belfast MP John Finucane said the story raises “serious concerns about the investigation into Noah’s death” and called for it to be investigated immediately.
However, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has lashed out at the supporters of the Donohoe family, describing them as an ‘emotionally charged sectarian lynch mob’ .
He accused them of ‘hijacking’ a press conference by a group of prominent unionists who were taking a legal action against Brexit’s Irish Protocol. The two groups exchanged words as they competed for media attention outside Laganside Courts in Belfast.
The teenager’s aunt Niamh Donohoe said Bryson’s comments were “deeply offensive and hurtful”.
“We are so proud of Noah’s Army, as they are made up of a community of respectful people from all backgrounds and identities, all of whom were present yesterday,” she said.
“These people gather in support of justice for Noah and our family regardless of politics or religion.
“We are eternally grateful for this support and solidarity, which sustains us in the darkest hours of our lives.”