Northern Ireland news

MLA who attended Noah Donohoe walk criticises PSNI for investigating potential Covid and parading breaches

People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

AN ASSEMBLY member who took part in a walk to highlight the case of Noah Donohoe has criticised the PSNI for investigating if the event breached Covid and parading legislation.

Large crowds took part in an impromptu walk from Belfast City Hall to Cave Hill Country Park on Sunday.

The gathering, led by Noah's mother Fiona, took place just days after a meeting with Chief Constable Simon Byrne.

It was originally intended to be a 'white line' show of support from 3pm on Sunday.

However, as Ms Donohoe walked, a large crowd followed her on to north Belfast.

Police told The Irish News yesterday that they are investigating potential breaches of Covid and parading legislation in relation to the event.

Noah (14), from the Ormeau Road area of south Belfast, went missing on June 21 2020. His body was found in a storm drain in north Belfast six days later.

A post mortem found that Noah died from drowning. A full inquest into the death will take place next year.

The teenager's family have been strongly critical of the PSNI's handling of the case.

Ms Donohoe and her sister Niamh had an online meeting with the PSNI chief constable on Friday to raise their concerns.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll, who attended the walk, said he was surprised by the police investigation.

"Pretty much everyone I saw was wearing a mask and staying socially distant," he said.

He said he believed police reaction was "disproportionate" when an event was highlighting anything to do with policing matters or state rules.

He added: "I refer to 'defend the statues' protests at city hall last year and the (anti-lockdown) event at Benone Beach the weekend before last."

Mr Carroll said he would raise the issue when the assembly meets again after the Easter break.

"I will definitely be trying to raise this as much as I can in the health committee and on the floor of the assembly," he said.

"I will be asking the various ministers their reaction to this."

"We can't have a situation where people are criminalised or targeted for when they are protesting in a safe manner."

Fiona Donohoe tweeted yesterday: "Saying thankyou to #NoahsArmy requires police action.Yet Noah going missing for 6 days and never returning home seems to require no action".

A PSNI spokesman said it was still investigating possible breaches of coronavirus legislation with regard to the anti-lockdown protest on Benone Beach in Co Derry on Saturday March 20.

"We continue to review the evidence gathered with a view to identifying any offences committed or breaches of the Health Protection Regulations," he said.

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