There is genuine fear in government circles that another ‘dirty protest’ involving dissident republicans in Maghaberry Prison could lead to attacks on prison officers and prison staff.
Twenty seven inmates in Roe House wrecked their cells in the past weeks as they continue to demand more freedom of movement and an end to strip searching.
Prisoners are searched before and after visits and sometimes randomly at the week-end. Only three prisoners in Roe House are allowed to congregate on a landing at a time over seen by five prison officers.
The fact that more than half a dozen prison officers have been identified as possible targets is giving rise to genuine worries regarding the intentions of breakaway republicans. Such a development could escalate events inside and out of the gaol.
According to insiders many dissident republicans are refusing to shave or cut their hair.
Justice Minister David Ford obliquely recalled the historical background of IRA protesting and the ultimate hunger strike and deaths in the Assembly on Tuesday when was asked about what is going on in Maghaberry prison.
It is also said that urine is regularly poured out from under the doors of prisoners’ cells. Back channels are being deployed to try and halt any escalation of the prison protest.
Gerry Adams is in a channel communicating with the dissident republicans.
[This article originally appeared on Slugger O’Toole]