QUESTION: When you think about the death of young Noah Donohoe, do you feel uneasy?  Me too. There are aspects of this  boy’s death which are painful and brutal to dwell on for more than a moment. Such as the fact that his naked body was found in a storm drain.  Or the post-mortem verdict that he died by drowning. Or the PSNI statement that there is no evidence of foul play. Rightly or wrongly,  a stench of suspicion attaches to Noah Donohoe’s death and it won’t go away.
Initial belief that the 14-year-old St Malachy’s College boy might have been the victim of a sectarian attack appears to have no foundation in fact. There were no signs of physical assault on the boy’s body. But terrible and troubling questions remain.

The storm drain in which Noah was found is normally locked. Who opened it?  CCTV cameras show Noah at one point riding naked on his bike. Why on earth was that? The PSNI ruled out foul play before an autopsy. How come?
Noah, as far as can be established, was a healthy, happy teenager, registered on a Duke of Edinburgh Awards programme. He did well in school. He had a warm relationship with his mother. And yet within minutes he moved from being happily alive to a sordid and baffling death.
As though intent on pouring petrol on the flames of public suspicion, Shailesh Vara, the new British Secretary of State, made signing a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate one of his first actions on arrival here. That means some of the files regarding Noah’s death will be concealed. A move not calculated to reassure a concerned public.
Vara’s action is concerning on a personal and a political level. On the personal level he has arranged things so that Noah’s mother and those who loved the boy will not have access to the full details of what happened to him. On a political level , this kind of concealment shows Britain’s relationship with NEI in its worst light. A talented, lovable teenager dies in the oddest of circumstances and the British Government, in the form of the new SoS, takes a step that might well be seen as yet another example of Britain knows best, nothing to be seen here, move along.

The voice of  Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has been raised in protest and now has been joined by that of Sinn Féin MP John Finucane. As the world knows,  John Finucane’s father was killed in his own home in front of his family, and the family of that murdered man have been struggling for decades to establish  all the facts surrounding his death. Again and again the authorities refuse to provide full disclosure . Again and again the Finucanes resume their painful search for truth.
In both the Donohoe case and the Finucane case, the authorities offer sympathy to the families. But behind the veneer of official concern lies a hard, colonial stubbornness: “No, you aren’t allowed to have this information. We know all the detail but you, despite the fact that you are the parent or child of the victim, you can’t be allowed to know the full details of your loved one’s death. Because we know what’s in the public interest.”
Perhaps you think that the authorities should defer to the bond of love between a father and his family, or the bond of love between a mother and her child? Ah, no. If that’s your belief,  you clearly don’t understand how Britain regards the people in this part of Ireland.