Belfast Telegraph

The threat of death always hangs over us... a prison officer in his own words

Most people live with a fear of death - a terminal illness, a fatal car accident, a hereditary condition, old age. But as a prison officer, particularly in the current climate and following the murder of colleague Adrian Ismay, the fear of death hangs over you every day.

Although it is always there, at times fading into the background, ironically it is like a prison sentence.

It impacts on your family, lifestyle choices and movements.

My day starts by checking all the cars in our family for under-car bombs.

My greatest fear is that should dissident republicans target me, my children could become victims simply by being in the car.

I have thought about a potential attack - you have to, not only for your own safety but because of the ramifications it would have on your family.

As well as checking the cars - my kids remind me when I become lax - I have to think about where I go and how I get there. That sounds morbid but you have to think about these things because in all likelihood if targeted, I would be killed instantly.

The victims who would have to live with the consequences of the dissidents' actions would be my wife and family - they would be left to serve a life sentence.

Could they afford to keep the house we live in? How would my wife manage the demands of work and motherhood as a widow?

How would it affect my children? Who would walk my daughter down the aisle?

Who would fix the leaks, bleed the radiators, attend parent evenings and care for my family in my absence?

These are the unspoken thoughts of many a prison officer.

Belfast Telegraph

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