Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
MSPs pledge allegiance to 'Scottish people'
Winnie Ewing takes the presiding officer's chair
The first sitting of the Scottish Parliament for 292 years has been concluded.
The oldest MSP, the Scottish National Party's Winnie Ewing, 69, was first to take the oath on the stroke of 0930 in the temporary parliament building on the Mound in Edinburgh. She repeated the words in Gaelic.
At the end of the swearing-in ceremony, she said: "I have the opportunity to say a few words. I want to start with the words I have always wanted to say or hear someone say."
She paid tribute to the late Labour leader John Smith, who died exactly five years ago and who worked tirelessly for devolution.
After Mrs Ewing took the chair, Scottish Labour leader Donald Dewar stepped down from his seat to take the oath.
BBC Scotland political correspondent Kenny MacIntyre says the two men warmly welcomed each other by shaking hands in public in the chamber. This was intended to be taken as an indication of the manner in which they hope their future exchanges will be conducted.
"For the Scottish National Party parliamentary group loyalty is with the people of Scotland in line with the sovereignty of the people," he said.
"I know that all members of this parliament will share that view."
The former Labour MP for Falkirk West, Dennis Canavan, who won the seat back as an independent after being ditched by his party, echoed his opposition to swearing allegiance to the monarch.
He said he took the affirmation only in accordance with the law, to allow him to represent his constituents.
Britain's first Green parliamentarian, Robin Harper, stepped up to the dais after Mr Canavan and passed a piece of paper to the clerk but this was not referred to in his oath.
All sights were set on the next to step up - Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan, who had also said he would take the pledge but only under protest.
Afterwards, Tommy Sheridan conceded to "hypocrisy" in swearing an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
"I don't disagree that it was hypocrisy. An unelected monarchy is an outdated agency but I feel that we have imposed the Royal Prerogative even deeper into the Scottish Parliament.
"I don't know if people realise this, but in Westminster if you refuse to take the oath your seat remains vacant until the next election. In the Scottish Parliament, if you don't take the oath within two months of being elected there is an immediate by-election.
"I was obliged to do something, I'm not happy to have done it but I felt I was forced to do it."
The SNP's Dorothy Grace-Elder had to make two attempts to swear the oath. In her first, she added the words "to the people of Scotland" to the text.
"It was impromptu," she said. "It was not meant to be an anti-Queen thing, I'm very much in favour of the Commonwealth because that's where the Queen is important."
The entire swearing-in ceremony was completed as scheduled, by 1230.
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