'deep concern' | 

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly accuses NI secretary of helping PSNI ‘cover up’ Noah Donohoe death

“One of the first actions of the new British Secretary of State is signing off an application for the PSNI to conceal information”
Noah and mum Fiona

Noah and mum Fiona

Gerry Kelly

Gerry Kelly

Brett CampbellBelfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland’s new Secretary of State has been accused of helping police “conceal” information about the death of schoolboy Noah Donohoe.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said it is “deeply concerning” that one of Shailesh Vara’s first acts since taking office was signing off a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate.

The certificate would cover what the PSNI described as a "limited amount" of material in three police evidence folders.

Policing Board member Mr Kelly is calling on the PSNI to withdraw the application provide full transparency about its probe into what happened to the 14-year-old.

Noah’s naked body was found in a Belfast storm drain, six days after being reported missing in June 2020. It raised questions around the initial police operation.

Gerry Kelly

Gerry Kelly

“One of the first actions of the new British Secretary of State, who has only been office for a number of weeks is signing off an application for the PSNI to conceal information related to the Noah Donohoe case,” Mr Kelly said.

“This is deeply concerning and I am again calling on the PSNI to withdraw this application, because the Donohoe family deserve answers, not secrecy and cover up.”

The north Belfast representative said the PII certificates have only one purpose.

“They were and are extensively used to hold back information in conflict legacy cases,” Mr Kelly added.

“This inquest is about the death of a 14-year-old child.

“It is not conflict related.

“We will continue to stand with the Donohoe family in their campaign for truth, transparency and accountability.”

At a pre-inquest review hearing before coroner Joe McCrisken late last year, a lawyer representing the police insisted a PII application is not an unusual occurrence and is a common feature of many inquests.

The inquest is scheduled to begin on November 28.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara. (Pic: Brian Lawless/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara. (Pic: Brian Lawless/PA)

Donal Lunny QC said police would likely be seeking PII on a “limited amount” of material in three police evidence folders.

“It is important to remember that PII applications are a not infrequent occurrence in inquests of all types, and they occur for various reasons, including most commonly to protect police methodology,” he told Mr McCrisken.

In a statement on Thursday, Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland submitted an application for Public Interest Immunity (PII) to the Secretary of State in June 2022.

“As always, the Coroner will continue to have full sight of all material in this case and he will have the final decision on PII.”

The Northern Ireland Office has been asked for a response to the comments.


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