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by Kirsteen Paterson
19 April 2022
Ex-Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace addresses Holyrood in Kirk role

Lord Wallace addresses the debating chamber

Ex-Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace addresses Holyrood in Kirk role

The veteran politician was the first visitor to the chamber in two years

Former Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace has become the first visitor to speak in Holyrood's debating chamber since before the pandemic.

Now a member of the House of Lords, the veteran politician was appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland almost one year ago.

It was in this role that he appeared in person before MSPs today, delivering Time for Reflection in the debating chamber to herald the start of the parliamentary business week.

Wallace served as the Lib Dem MSP for Orkney from 1999 until 2007, when he left the Scottish Parliament. 

He was Deputy First Minister for the first six years of that period, working under first ministers Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell. Wallace served as Acting First Minister after Dewar's death and the resignation of McLeish.

Before delivering his address, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone described Wallace as "no stranger to this chamber".

He told MSPs it was "a privilege and pleasure to be back" as the first visitor after "two difficult, challenging and, for some, traumatic and heart-breaking years".

He said: "We meet against a backdrop of cruel strife and war on our own continent of Europe.

"It could become so easy to become despairing and yet, during this time, we have also seen, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘an eruption of humanity'. "Neighbours helping each other, profound examples of compassion and caring and in the response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, a willingness to welcome the stranger.

"Such outpourings of love and concern are surely an antidote to pessimism - beacons of hope; light in the darkness."

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