Death of Ginger leaves moggy Maggie as the final feral cat at Stormont
Another of Stormont's famous cats has passed away.
Ginger, thought to be aged 12, died yesterday morning. It follows the death of a second feline, Furbie, in recent weeks.
They were part of a trio of moggies that made the grounds of the Stormont Estate their home.
They are survived by a final cat, Maggie.
Doting pensioner Edna Watters, who has been feeding Stormont's cats for the last 30 years, since she was a civil servant, was among those paying tribute yesterday.
Ginger, Maggie and Furbie were in the headlines in 2017 when they became unwitting victims of the breakdown of devolved government.
Edna and her pensioner friends were classed as a "security risk" and prevented from tending to the feral cats.
The Belfast Telegraph took the campaign to the most senior levels of government, grilling then Secretary of State James Brokenshire on why the pensioners had been kept away.
After the cats' story was highlighted in this newspaper the pensioners, who had looked after the animals in all weathers, were finally allowed back to feed them.
Yesterday Edna (77) said: "It's a bit of a shock after losing Furbie at the beginning of the month, it's very distressing. Ginger and Furbie were very, very close.
"For the last four days of Furbie's life Ginger never left her side. You would even have thought he knew she was coming to the end. She was a very, very old lady. She purred away, she purred and purred and her last breath was a purr. It's so awful to find at the end of the month that we've lost Ginger as well."
Peter Cardwell, a former special adviser to Secretaries of State James Brokenshire and Karen Bradley, said: "I have very fond memories of both Ginger and Furbie who, along with the surviving Maggie, greeted me each morning as they munched their breakfasts near the entrance to Stormont House, saying hello with a purr as I gave them a little stroke behind the ears.
"I do fear Maggie will now be lonely, and in time it might make sense for my lovely former colleagues at the NIO to get her a companion."
Yesterday Edna recalled her battle to feed the cats. She said: "It was such an uphill struggle to get the better of the powers-that-be. I have no respect for them at all because over the 30 years I have looked after these cats, they have given us nothing except grief… they actually bricked them in, this was about 20 years ago."
Edna explained how, in her quest to feed the cats, she got some unexpected help after she stumbled into DUP leader Arlene Foster, who put her in contact with "somebody in the castle".
She also received support from the Belfast Telegraph, when a reporter delivered food to the cats in 2017. Edna added: "I will always be grateful to the Telegraph for everything they did. It was a very stressful time."
She hopes that Stormont's final cat Maggie will outlast the political deadlock, adding: "I think she will. She's a big fat girl, she just loves her food and she looks as healthy as can be."