THE Ulster Unionist Party has again faced queries over mixed messages in relation to the Justice for Noah Donohoe campaign after the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council grouping opposed a Motion of support, while colleagues in a neighbouring local authority voted it through without issue.
In October, Independent Councillor Eamon Keenan echoed the Donohoe family’s call for Chief Constable Simon Byrne to resign over “PSNI failures under his watch and the mishandling of the investigation into Noah’s death”.
The Motion requested all Policing Board politicians to step away in protest for “failing in its stated objectives of holding the PSNI to account, which has been shown beyond doubt with the unnecessary and contentious use of a PII [Public interest immunity] Certificate in this case”.
It further called for the motion to be shared with all local authorities.
An amendment tabled by Sinn Fein’s Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, while largely in agreement, did not seek resignations, and called on the Secretary of State to withdraw the PII.
Ulster Unionist Councillor John McClaughry said: “We have nothing but sympathy for Noah’s family, especially his mother, Fiona.
“However, we have serious concerns with both the motion and amendment.
“The Presiding Coroner, who has access to all files, examined the PII and gave assurances that nothing redacted showed any third party was involved, nor nothing to suggest a cover-up.
“The PSNI argued disclosure of methodology and handling of sources would damage national security. The Coroner’s judgment held disclosure would give rise to real risk of harm to public interest.”
He branded the motion: “A direct challenge to the independence of our judiciary. We sincerely hope the inquest answers the family’s questions around Noah’s tragic death, but we cannot support the Motion.”
The matter went to a vote, which came in 14 to 13 on the amended version, with five members abstaining.
Within days, however, the motion was referred to at an Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Council meeting by Sinn Fein Councillor Brona Haughey, who proposed similar support.
This passed without dissent, including support from the Ulster Unionists, contrary to the position of their leader and the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council grouping.
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