The former Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir John Hermon, has had to be moved from a nursing home because of a potential threat to his life from dissident republicans.
The sickening development was confirmed yesterday by security sources in the North, who said that while they are unaware of any intent to kill Mr hermon, dissident republicans had recently discovered where he was receiving care for his Alzheimer's condition.
In a brief statement yesterday, his wife, Sylvia Hermon, the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down, said: "I feel intensely protective towards Jack and so I'm extremely reluctant to say anything that might in any way compromise his personal security. I do of course continue to be guided by police advice.
"All the nursing and care staff who have looked after my husband over recent months have done so with the greatest compassion and sensitivity, wonderful people doing a remarkable job with dementia and Alzheimer's sufferers."
Mr Hermon was in charge of the RUC at the time of three controversial 'shoot-to-kill' incidents in 1982 when six republicans were killed by a specialist police unit.
He retired as chief constable in 1989, a year after marrying Sylvia Hermon following the death of his first wife from cancer. The couple have two teenage boys, but for the last six years Mr Hermon has been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and in recent months was put into a care home because he needs round-the-clock care.
It's understood that PSNI officers visited Ms Hermon a fortnight ago and advised her that dissident republicans had learned where the 79-year-old former chief constable was receiving specialist care. It's understood that while no direct threat to Mr Hermon's life was detected, the 53-year-old MP decided to remove him to another location. Mr Hermon was provided with a permanent police guard and armed escort when he retired in 1989 because of his high profile and the risk of a revenge assassination attack by the Provisional IRA.
During his time as chief constable Mr Hermon fought running battles with his Garda counterpart, Commissioner Laurence Wren, over crossborder co-operation and often displayed anger to colleagues and journalists at what he felt was a lack of operational assistance from Dublin Castle at the height of the IRA and INLA campaigns.
Sylvia Hermon has campaigned for more to be done for suffers of the debilitating condition.