'Grave concerns' over redaction application in Noah Donohoe investigation
The legal team representing the family of Belfast teenager Noah Donohoe says it has "grave concerns" over an application to withhold information in police files.
A Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate was signed by Secretary of State Shailesh Var in one of his first actions in the post.
KRW Law said the actions of the Northern Ireland secretary "exacerbate rather than allay deeply held concerns" about his death.
There is to be a private hearing for coroner Joe McCrisken to rule on the certificate, which was brought by the PSNI and which required ministerial approval.
The inquest into Noah's death is scheduled to begin on November 28 and to run for three weeks.
The 14-year-old pupil at St Malachy's College in Belfast was found dead in a storm drain in north Belfast in June 2020, six days after he went missing.
A post-mortem examination found he died by drowning.
His mother Fiona is hoping to secure answers to some of the questions surrounding his death through the inquest process.
In a statement yesterday the law firm, who represent Ms Donohoe, said it had "grave concerns as to the application by the Secretary of State for redactions of sensitive materials citing Public Interest Immunity".
The statement comes as large numbers of supporters of the Donohoe family are due to gather in Belfast city centre tomorrow.
The Truth and Justice for Noah Donohoe rally, which will take place at city hall, follows a similar event in Derry.
There was also a rally last night in Newry.
Mr Vara came under fire for issuing the PII while its use in the case has also been criticised.
The Northern Ireland Office said Mr Vara carefully considered the PII application, having been fully briefed by officials, adding it did not comment "on ongoing coronial proceedings".
Some theories about Noah's death centre on claims that loyalists were involved.
It was reported on Sunday that police files linked to the death show no loyalist or state agent involvement.
The Sunday Independent claimed that the files subject of PII certificates are linked to police intelligence and operational matters.
Speaking to The Irish News on Wednesday, Noah's aunt Niamh Donohoe said the family is willing to do "whatever it takes" to find out the truth about his death.
KRW Law said:
"We repose grave concerns as to the application by the Secretary of State for redactions of sensitive materials citing Public Interest Immunity, however cannot comment publicly further on the issue.
"The application is live before the court, and we shall be making our strenuous objections at the appropriate stage of those proceedings.
"As we have already observed to the coroner, the application for PII in Noah’s inquest was entirely unexpected, and is, in these circumstances, unique in our experience. It has cause Noah’s family, and indeed the wider community, enormous distress.
"One purpose of this inquest will be to allay rumour and suspicion in relation to Noah’s death".
A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "We do not comment on ongoing coronial proceedings".