Several thousand people protested in Belfast city centre last weekend against a secrecy order placed on investigations into the death of Noah Donohoe.
The naked body of 14-year-old Noah was found buried in a storm drain in a loyalist area of north Belfast in 2020, in an area where other Catholic children had previously been attacked.
A Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate, signed last month by British Direct Ruler Shailesh Vara, is believed to be an attempt to cover up the murder of an innocent child.
Claims by the British government that the secrecy order is being used only to conceal police surveillance techniques have been greeted with scepticism, as well as its denials of state or loyalist involvement.
KRW Law, which represents the Donohoe family, said the use of the PII cert, used to conceal conflict-related secrets, is highly unusual. It warned that the move appeared to “exacerbate rather than allay deeply held concerns”.
In a statement on Facebook, Noah’s aunt Niamh Donohoe said the “momentum keeps gathering”.
“When people come together like this the impact it has on decision makers can be profound,” she wrote. “Regardless of what is or isn’t contained in the sensitive files, there is so much more at stake here.”
The broad public in the North has overwhelmingly rallied in support of the Donohoe family to obtain the truth of what happened. The giant protest at Belfast City Hall last Saturday, on one of the hottest days of the year, showed the campaign has the capacity to mobilise large numbers of people.
Sinn Féin North Belfast MP John Finucane said the Donohoe family deserves truth and transparency because there are “serious questions” that remain unanswered “concerning every single aspect of Noah’s disappearance” and the subsequent investigation, he said.
“Justice demands openness and justice demands transparency. When we speak of Noah and Fiona’s search for truth, we speak of the need for a light to be shone revealing everything we still don’t know about what happened to him.”
People Before Profit assembly member Gerry Carroll said: “All the Donohoe family is asking for is the truth.
“If the PSNI is certain about how Noah died, why are they unwilling to release key information which would allow Fiona, Niamh and their family to move on?”
He called on Policing Board members to sever ties with the PSNI over how Noah’s case had been “mishandled”.
“There should be no back-room discussions with the PSNI until the PII is scrapped and there is a proper, transparent attempt to get justice for Noah Donohoe.”
Aontú representative for East Derry, Gemma Brolly, told the rally that that her party was united with their quest for truth and justice in the case.
“This is not justice; this is wrong in every sense of the word and everyone knows it,” she said. “We will not stand by while a mother is denied the answers on how her child was so cruelly taken from her.”
Fiona Donohoe spoke briefly at the end of the protest to thank supporters for attending.
“We see on our social media every day the support that we have, but to see people come out today - this is Noah’s army. We are so grateful to every single person standing here in this heat today for Noah.”
The event finished with a minute’s silence and the release of doves.