Northern Ireland

Noah Donohoe: Mother 'told him that he would change the world'

Noah Donohoe Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Noah had been missing for almost a week

Noah Donohoe's mother "always told him that he would change the world", his family has said.

A body believed to be that of the missing Belfast teenager was found in a storm drain on Saturday.

The 14-year-old was last seen near the Shore Road in north Belfast a week ago.

In a statement, his family said: "He was very special. It is very hard to do justice or honour the extraordinary relationship Noah and his mummy shared."

It added: "In his 14 years his mummy got so much from their special bond, he taught his mummy so much. They were each other's world."

The Donohoe family said they needed to "express our heartfelt gratitude for the support, outpouring of love, and empathy we have received".

"From walking with us, both physically and spiritually, to feeling our pain, we recognise that everyone has lost Noah," the statement said.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Noah Donohoe's mother, Fiona, attended a news conference on Wednesday

"Noah loved his school and his friends at school, and we know that they will be grieving too and they need to say goodbye too.

"Eventually we will come back to people individually to express our overwhelming gratitude."

His mother Fiona and the entire family circle "wish to say thank you to each and everyone of you from the bottom of our hearts".

The family said details of Noah's funeral will follow.

A number of family members attended a vigil in north Belfast on Sunday evening.

They released 14 blue balloons, in memory of Noah.

People clapped as the Community Rescue Service volunteers, who looked for Noah, walked past.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption People showed their appreciation for the search teams who looked for Noah

Earlier on Sunday, Noah's school said it was "blessed to have had such an outstanding student and person as a most valued member of our family".

St Malachy's College said Noah's "caring nature, calm demeanour and big smile were some of his great gifts that helped others do their best".

Image caption Floral tributes left at the gates of St Malachy’s College on Saturday

The school said that Noah was a talented musician and keen rugby and basketball player.

He also received a number of awards in his three years at the school, including The Spirit of the College Award, full attendance and class prizes.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Specialist teams, police, and community rescue services were involved in the search for Noah, along with hundreds of volunteers

"We are all deeply saddened at Noah's passing away, and we offer prayers for and support to his mother, Fiona, family members, friends and also his extended family - all of us associated with St Malachy's College," the statement added.

"Noah will always be a treasured member of our Malachian family."

'Talented, loving and gifted'

Bishop Noel Treanor said "words cannot begin to describe the experience of distress and sense of pain and heartache that the Donohoe family are feeling at this time".

Speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Down and Connor, he offered his sympathies to the family and paid tribute to those who helped with the search.

"Those who have assisted in the search for Noah and the wider community have come to learn about the life of a talented, loving and gifted young man who brought so much joy and blessing to his family, his friends, his classmates and teachers in St Malachy's College, and all those who knew him," Bishop Treanor said.

Kevin Sharkey, BBC News NI reporter

Few "missing person" cases in recent times have captured the attention of the public like the week-long search for 14-year-old Noah Donohoe.

The mystery of the Belfast schoolboy's disappearance and the events in the minutes before he went missing left a community bewildered.

The public reaction to his disappearance was stirring. There was an impulsive outpouring of support and solidarity for his family.

This was a local community unwittingly cast into a lead role in a wider society mission of mercy.

The schoolboy had disappeared in their area and they were determined to lead the public efforts to find him.

And, for the first few days, they did.

At the request of Noah's family, along with the police and trained community search and rescue teams, the civilian volunteers had pulled back on Thursday.

They heeded the call to give the trained and specialised teams space to conduct targeted searches.

Day after day, PSNI Supt Muir Clark assured the missing boy's family that his officers and community rescue teams would do everything possible to find their boy.

On one occasion, he was joined at a press briefing by Noah's mother, Fiona, and her two sisters. Fiona's anguish was heart-rending.

Like the initial disappearance of the schoolboy, the tragic outcome has stunned the local communities around the Shore Road and neighbouring areas.

Communities who came together, stood united, and helped out as one. They told me they did it for Noah and his heartbroken family.

Supt Muir Clark said on Saturday that he did not believe there was any foul play involved in the death.

In a tweet, the PSNI said it reiterated that it was "disappointing that we again need to call on people circulating a number of rumours about Noah's disappearance, which are completely without foundation".

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