THE people of Strabane turned out in their hundreds on Monday evening in a huge show of solidarity with the Donohoe family.
Calling on the Secretary of State (SoS), Shailesh Vara, to reverse a decision to withhold files in relation to the Noah Donohoe case, young and old listened to a number of speakers at the PSNI Station in the town demand that the files be released.
Noah’s mum, Fiona, originally from Lisnafin in the town, has called for all information relating to her son’s death to be released for an inquest into his death. However, in one of his first actions as Secretary of State, Shailseh Vara approved the Public Interest Immunity certificate which would block some information deemed sensitive.
Fiona Donohoe reacted by launching a petition against the use of PII certificates in her son’s case.
Fourteen-year-old Noah went missing in Belfast on the evening of Sunday June 21 2020 whilst cycling to meet friends to study for a Duke of Edinburgh project. Six days after his disappearance, his remains were found in a storm drain in the north of the city. Police stated that there was no foul play involved, and yet, over two years later, the family remains in the dark over the exact circumstances leading to the teen’s demise.
“I’m really pleased to say there has been a massive turn-out by the people of Strabane to support and give solidarity to Fiona Donohoe and her family…” independent councillor, Paul Gallagher told the gathering.
“Fiona comes from Strabane, and I’m glad to say that tonight, we are saying to Fiona: ‘We are standing behind you. We need this certificate lifted. We need it cancelled…”
He said the turnout showed that people are ‘demanding’ the certificate be withdrawn.
“This certificate was imposed by a Secretary of State who doesn’t even know where Strabane is; he has no care about Strabane. But we know about Strabane, and we care about the people of Strabane – we want this certificate lifted, and we want it lifted now.”
Echoing those sentiments, Sinn Féin councillor Michaela Boyle says that the British Secretary of State must reverse his decision.
“There is palpable anger in the community that one of the first decisions by this new British Secretary of State was to sign off on a Public Interest Immunity certificate in the case of Noah Donohoe’s death.
“The extent of this anger is clear from the massive turnout at the protest in Strabane.
“A PII is used to conceal information and there is no conceivable reason why this is being invoked in the case of the tragic death of an innocent 14-year-old child.”
Following the protest, Cllr Raymond Barr added, “The dignified show of support was way beyond our expectations.
“Hopefully Strabane will be the catalyst for more major protests at this injustice.”
Yesterday (Wednesday), Cllr Barr revealed that he is personally running a bus to Belfast’s City Hall on Saturday for another protest.
“A bus will leave Home Bargains car park at 10am sharp on Saturday for the rally at Belfast City Hall 1pm,” he said. “The bus will be leaving Belfast at 5pm sharp on the return journey.
“Seats can only be booked by leaving your name and fare in Christy’s Bar. Thanks to sponsorship by Works Coffee Roasters in Belfast the fare will be £6. No bookings taken over the phone or on social media and seats will be allocated on a first-come basis.”
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