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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 00:41 GMT
'Pride' call on St Andrew's Day
Girl with Saltire
Events are planned to mark the patron saint's day
Scotland's past and present should be celebrated with pride on St Andrew's Day, according to the first minister.

Jack McConnell said as a nation, Scotland should be looking to the future with confidence.

In his St Andrew's Day message, he said the celebrations were a chance to remind people Scotland was "a great place to study, visit and live".

On the eve of the patron saint's day, MSPs backed a bill which allows businesses to declare it a holiday.

The proposals, brought forward by independent MSP Dennis Canavan, will see 30 November become a voluntary holiday from next year.

I am delighted to see so many Scots and friends of Scotland participating in events
Jack McConnell
First Minister

Banks and other organisations will be legally allowed, but not compelled, to close.

In his address, Mr McConnell said: "Every year Scotland's recognition of our national patron saint becomes greater.

"And this year I am delighted to see so many Scots and friends of Scotland participating in events."

He said this year's celebrations would take place under the banner of One Scotland, Many Cultures.

The day will be marked in many other countries, including the US, Uganda, Slovenia, Papua New Guinea, China and Argentina.

Spread the message

"This celebration of Scotland beyond our borders reflects the way we have always looked to the rest of the world to share values and cultures, exchange ideas and develop trade," added Mr McConnell.

"Scots around the world are our ambassadors - and, today, they can spread the message about the modern, 21st Century country we are building."

The scale of the St Andrew's Day celebrations was criticised by the SNP earlier this month.

Commenting when the programme was announced, the party's culture spokesman Stewart Maxwell said the plans amounted to "three ceilidhs and an ice show".

MSPs approve St Andrew's day bill
29 Nov 06 |  Scotland
St Andrew's Day events unveiled
07 Nov 06 |  Scotland
First minister backs holiday call
11 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Business leaders oppose holiday
17 Jul 06 |  Scotland

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