Belfast Telegraph

MP leads condemnation as fur flies over cat security ban

By Victoria Leonard and Noel McAdam

Politicians from across the political divide have united in condemnation of the ban on a kindly pensioner feeding three cats in Stormont's grounds.

As the fur flew and fears grew of deprived cats roaming Stormont hill, East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson put pen to headed paper in a strongly-worded letter to Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance David Sterling.

Calling for "a common sense approach" to be adopted, Mr Robinson warned that the matter of the moggies must be resolved quickly before it "escalates further".

He stated: "I fear that the approach that is presently being taken by estate security has not reached an appropriate balance and instead has invited ridicule. As Permanent Secretary for the Department responsible for the estate, I would ask that you could review the decision as a matter of urgency.

"With the Easter holidays looming, it is important that this relatively straightforward issue is sorted quickly and before the matter escalates further. I am sure that if your intervention can result in a favourable outcome, you will have the enormous gratitude of animal lovers from all across the province and will head off the kind of campaign that was associated with Lennox the dog."

In 2010 a massive global campaign started to "Save Lennox" after he was deemed to be a pit bull-type dog that fell foul of legislation. Lennox was put down by Belfast City Council in 2012.

Meanwhile, the SDLP said it was concerned that officials appeared to have been involved in a security review which resulted in Edna Watters being denied access to Ginger, Maggie and Furby.

Colin McGrath MLA said it was "amazing" that Mrs Watters's daily mission had become an issue as talks continue to save devolution itself.

"At a time when parties are focused on restoring power sharing and the Civil Service is focused on managing the day-to-day finances of government departments in the absence of ministerial direction, it is amazing that an issue has been made of Edna feeding the Stormont House cats," he said.

"It's even more concerning that significant time seems to have been invested in compiling some sort of dossier on cat- feeding activity in the Stormont Estate."

The South Down MLA said he would be asking how much staff resources were spent monitoring Edna "feeding the cats that could have been better put to use elsewhere".

"Quite frankly it's an embarrassment. If Edna wants to continue the good work she's been doing for 30 years, there should be no bureaucratic barriers placed in the way," he said.

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