THERE are times when partition hits home in a most sickening way. The past week in the North has yielded unending sadness and trauma with the disappearance of Noah Donohoe and the discovery of his body.

Across the north of Ireland our airwaves and social media platforms were convulsed as we physically and spiritually joined with the Donohoes as they desperately searched for Noah.

We could barely contain our fear or our agony as we checked to see if there was any news, as each agonising day of the search continued. And then when he was found the entire population slumped in grief.

That the Donohoes recognised this in their statement to the media was an act of immense generosity.

They recognised that an entire population had lost Noah too. While their world was crumbling around them, they took the time to acknowledge a population in grief.

Meanwhile in Dublin a government was being formed and all eyes were on the Convention Centre by the Liffey. With eye-popping gymnastics a socially distanced vote was taken, a government formed, ministers nominated and a Seanad appointed. Then Michael D gave his blessing to the entire affair with a press pic taken that looked like they were all about to begin a line dance to Cotton Eyed Joe.

Not a word uttered for Noah Donohoe. Not from the new Taoiseach, Tánaiste or the well-established Uachtarán. Make no mistake about it, had Noah been from any constituency in the south there would have been plenty of mention and acknowledgement.

We feel it when the southern government’s partitionism ignores the north apart from the moments of convenience. Especially when those few moments are generally to score points on Sinn Féin. But this week to have no recognition of the plight of a grieving Strabane family in Belfast, or the population from all backgrounds that were supporting them, was demonstrable blindness.

This myopia was reinforced when the new Taoiseach did not nominate a seanadóir from the unionist community. Despite claims of being focused on a “Shared Island” and making a commitment to a unit for that purpose, FF/FG/Green Party leaderships left the only voices from the north to be those of the elected Sinn Féin Senators Niall Ó Donnghaile and Elisha McCallion. And while they are fine and considerate representatives, they will never pretend to represent the voices of unionism.

And the partitionism extends to a media that, while not ignoring the plight of the Donohoes, most certainly did not engage with the story in a way that it undoubtedly would have had the child been from any area of the 26 counties. It is inconceivable that the pain stopped at the border, but in the public purview you would think it had.

Noah was a beautiful soul, lost in the most horrific of circumstances. His funeral will be held under Covid-19 restrictions. His school is grieving for him, and for Carl Mooney who died tragically in May. And yet somehow, apart from notable exceptions, this has largely escaped the Irish “national” government’s or media’s attention.

This weekend there were headlines that Civil War politics are now over in the south. However, the challenge to partition is not over, in fact it may only be beginning in earnest. But equally this week demonstrates the challenge that well may prove to be.