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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 19 December 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Business Motion, Superfast Broadband, Social Security (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Social Security (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Scottish Fiscal Commission (Appointment), Decision Time, Street Pastors Scotland (10th Anniversary)


Time for Reflection

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Basil Clark, parish priest at Our Lady Of Loretto and St Michael Catholic church in Musselburgh.

The Rev Basil Clark (Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael, Musselburgh)

Last month, I attended a commemoration of the Holodomor: the murder by starvation of up to 10 million Ukrainians by Joseph Stalin. It was a profoundly moving event. The ethnic Ukrainian community is of course proud of its roots and its traditions but proud, too, to be Scottish. It is easy to forget that this group was the asylum seekers of the 1940s, yet here they have made their home, now Ukrainian-Scots, some even wearing the Ukrainian tartan—identity maintained, integration achieved.

In 2018, the Scottish Catholic community celebrates 100 years of collaboration with the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments in the provision of education for its children. Although that provision has not been without its critics in every decade of that century, what it has achieved, in particular for the Irish majority within the Scottish Catholic community, is a means of maintaining a sense of ethnic identity even where, today, the religious component is largely ignored.

However, I would propose that precisely because that education was provided and supported by the state, it has acted as a facilitator of integration. Diversity within unity, and integration while allowing for a strong sense of identity, is no mean achievement. That it has been largely achieved for the Scottish-Irish should be acknowledged, remembering the fact that, in 1918, Irish Catholics were treated at best with suspicion; discrimination was commonly accepted and violence possible. That sense of Scottish-Irish identity was brought home to me when two of my parish teenagers turned up in Lourdes wearing kilts made from the Gilhooley tartan—identity maintained, integration achieved.

Should it be any surprise to us that it is the traditions of the Gaels, themselves a minority once treated with contempt, that have become an integrating catalyst? The minority culture of the highlander was, in the end, shared with the lowland Scot, forging a sense of common identity.

Scotland should not be frightened of outsiders. They find their place. She should not be suspicious of ethnic religious diversity; rather she should, and in time will, weave it into a new cloth. Things may be tense at times, but she has a self-confident culture that has its own strong roots, capable of adapting to as well as moulding the newcomer. The genius of our common identity is that it is made to be an open weave; there is always room for a new colour.