Belfast Telegraph

Cat at centre of Stormont feeding row dies aged 23

Furbie the cat at Stormont
Furbie the cat at Stormont
Edna Watters
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

One of Stormont's most famous feline residents has died.

Furbie - one of a trio of moggies that have made the grounds of the Stormont Estate their home - has passed away at the grand old age of 23.

Last year, the cats, dubbed 'The Stormont Three', became unlikely victims of the collapse of the political institutions.

Edna Watters (77) and her friends Carol and Ron Edmondson were prevented from feeding Furbie, along with her fellow felines, Maggie, who is about 12, and Ginger, thought to be around 10. Despite having cared for their furry friends for years, come rain, hail or shine, the retired civil servants were denied access after being deemed a "security risk".

Edna, who lives in Gilnahirk, said that the ban on looking after the cats had started with the political talks to save devolution at Stormont Castle.

She started looking after Stormont's cats when she worked as a civil servant there 30 years ago and fed them 365 days a year. She has known Ginger, Maggie and Furbie since they were born.

The ban led to a public outcry and the launch of two petitions objecting to the heavy-handedness. The Belfast Telegraph took the fight to the highest levels of government, with the then Secretary of State James Brokenshire being grilled on why the pensioners were being denied entry.

Edna and her friends later secured victory after permanent access was granted following a meeting with Stormont security.

It's understood that Furbie has been buried in the grounds of Stormont House.

Among those mourning her passing this week was Co Armagh man Peter Cardwell, a former Special Adviser to Secretaries of State James Brokenshire and Karen Bradley.

Mr Cardwell said he has fond memories of Furbie.

He said: "I was very sorry to hear from a lovely former colleague at the Northern Ireland Office that Furbie the Stormont House cat, who reached the grand old age of 23, has sadly left us.

"Her much-loved friends Maggie and Ginger remain on the Stormont Estate, cared for - as Furbie was - by wonderful, kind-hearted current and former civil servants and at no cost to the taxpayer.

"Furbie was a dear, friendly old lady who made me smile every day I worked at Stormont House, even the tough ones."

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