The PSNI’s use of a gag or secrecy order has raised concerns of a potential cover-up of a state role in the disappearance and death of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe in June of last year.
Four PSNI files containing “sensitive” materials in relation to the case are being sent for redaction (censorship) under the Public Interest Immunity (PII) process.
Both the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman have been accused of failing to carry out a proper investigation into the apparent abduction and murder of the young Catholic teenager, whose naked body was found deep inside a storm drain six days after he disappeared while cycling through a loyalist area of north Belfast.
The PSNI initially denied foul play played a role in the death, which they linked to a change in the teen’s personality, possibly caused by a fall from his bicycle.
As well as offering secrecy, Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificates give the PSNI freedom from liability, legal duty and prosecution. It is thought the order is being sought to protect the police, their agents, and their refusal to investigate the child’s death.
As a result of the application, the inquest into the death of the Belfast schoolboy will not take place in January as scheduled.
Brenda Campbell, a barrister representing Noah’s mother Fiona, said there were “huge questions” to be answered for Ms Donohoe about what happened to her son.
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said the situation is “appalling” and that Noah’s mother needed transparency ahead of the inquest.
Mr Kelly said: “We have been fighting over the issues around legacy for years and years and the damage it does to policing.
“Yet here we are, a present situation where the PSNI have asked for this assessment. I just find it really hard to take in.”