A dissident republican convicted of murdering Northern Ireland policeman Stephen Carroll was married in prison on Monday. Former Craigavon Sinn Fein councilor Brendan McConville, 45, wed English-based fiancée Siobhan Monaghan, 49, in a small ceremony inside Maghaberry prison in Co. Antrim. McConville, who joined the Continuity IRA when he split from the main Republican movement, is serving life, with a 25-year-recommended minimum, for his part in the killing of Carroll back in 2009. He struck up a romance with single mother Monaghan after she began writing letters to him from her home in Oxford, England. She is believed to have visited McConville regularly in his top-security area of the prison.

Minutes after the marriage, a picture of a smiling McConville and his new bride in her wedding dress appeared on Facebook, with a number of well wishers posting messages congratulating the newlywed couple. Prison sources said it was a quick service before a handful of people with no big fanfare and, despite Monaghan’s wishes that there would be chimes, no ringing bells. Guests were held to a strict time limit and the couple had less than two hours alone before they also had to part.

Carroll was shot dead aged 48 as he responded to a 999 call in Craigavon in 2009. He was the first police officer to be killed since the formation of the PSNI which succeeded the RUC. At the time the dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, claimed they were responsible for the shooting.

McConville and John Paul Wootton, now 25 and also jailed for life with a minimum 14-year term, had attempted to overturn their murder convictions but their appeal was dismissed at the High Court in Belfast in May 2014.

The dead man’s widow, Kate Carroll, spoke publicly for the first time recently about her new found friendship with Derek Egerton, who offered support to her in the years after her husband’s death. She said she had not been looking for a partner, and although she is happy now, she emphasized “Steve will always live on in my heart.”