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EDITIONS
Scottish Parliament opening Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Dewar's joy as vision becomes reality
Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar addressing guests in Parliament Hall
First Minister Donald Dewar said Scotland should rejoice at the opening of its new parliament and requested that people spare a special thought to peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

This is the full text of his address in Parliament Hall ahead of the official opening:

"Can I starting by thanking you, Lord President, for making Parliament Hall, this quite remarkable building, available this morning.

It is the most appropriate place to be beginning our celebrations today, it marks the continuity with our great past and I hope a very great and successful future.

We simply could not be starting in any better place.

As you all know, Tony Blair cannot be hear today. He took that decision somewhere around 4am this morning as the parties in Northern Ireland agreed to resume their talks only a few hours later.

Troubled province

All of us know the importance and sensitivity of what is happening there and our thoughts are with all those who are seeking a way forward in that troubled province.

Whatever our ceremonies here today, the best possible present for us would be progress and success in Belfast.

The prime minister has sent a message which he has asked me to read on his behalf.

He says: "I am very sorry not to be able to be with you all today. I very much wanted to be in Edinburgh for the official opening of the Scottish Parliament. I hope you will understand why this was not possible.

"The establishment of the Scottish Parliament is a great achievement for the people of Scotland.

"I am very proud, that after so many years of campaigning, this government kept its pledge and legislated for the Scottish Parliament.

"It is now up to the politicians of all parties to make it a success and a power for good on behalf of the Scottish people."

Share and support

I think these are thoughts which we would all share and support and I would like to thank Tony Blair on behalf of all of us here.

And if I may I would like to add the briefest of personal notes.

I count myself lucky indeed to be playing my part in the hard work of turning a vision into reality - a working constitutional settlement, not just here in Scotland but for the United Kingdom as a whole.

Tony Blair has given me steady and determined support and encouragement through all the work that has brought us here today.

This is a significant day, there won't be any quarrelling about that. A significant day for every politician in Scotland, a day on which we come together regardless of party differences.

I have every intention of enjoying it, right down to the last firework at the end of the day. I recommend that to you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I know my fellow party leaders will share that wish."

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First Minister Donald Dewar: "Turning vision into reality"
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