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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
McConnell tells of new confidence
Jack McConnell at new opening
Jack McConnell said the strength of democracy had been tested
First Minister Jack McConnell said the new Holyrood had a brought a fresh confidence to Scotland.

But he told those gathered for the opening of the building that the road to completion had been difficult.

Mr McConnell added: "It is now accepted that this is the permanent home for the nation's final discussion on matters that affect the way we live."

He thanked the Queen for her support and wished her well in all that she did for Scotland in the future.

The oblique reference to the troubles that have dogged the Holyrood building project, delivered three years late and at a cost of 431m, was made at the beginning of the final speech at Saturday's ceremony.

Mr McConnell said: "The road to completion has been difficult, the strength of our new democracy has been tested.

"But we have matured more quickly then many expected and encountered sorrows and challenges on the way no one anticipated.

We have a parliament which has come of age in a country whose time has come
Jack McConnell
First Minister
"This is a building to which we have come amid debate and controversy.

"The Scots are, as the late Willie Ross (Scottish Secretary in the 1970s) once said, a disputatious people.

"And indeed we are true to that trait as we brought this building to life."

Mr McConnell addressed MSPs, telling them the duties they performed would chart the future course of Scotland.

He said: "We should not just deal with the challenges of today, in Scotland in this parliament we have to imagine what the future will hold.

"This parliament should dare to open minds to the opportunities that change brings and seize those opportunities for the people of Scotland.

Nicola Benedetti
Violinist Nicola Benedetti performed at the ceremony
"In the words of our national poet, let us all be thinking persons, let us all be open and adventurous.

"Most of all, let us be confident that we live in a great country of great talent and opportunity, of enterprise and compassion and tolerance too, and let us indeed pick up that thread of pride and self esteem and make our nation proud again."

The event in the chamber featured performances from BBC Young Musician of the Year 2004, violinist Nicola Benedetti and singer Eddie Reader.

Mr McConnell, who wore a kilt for the event, said there was now a spring in Scotland's step.

He added: "Scotland has found a new voice in the land, today we celebrate a new confidence in the country with a permanent parliament to announce our ambitions and encourage our enterprise and fight for fairness.

"We have a new building, which will be for many the envy of the world, but today more than anything we have a parliament which has come of age in a country whose time has come."


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