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24 December 2014, 06:13
Political leaders have reflected on the tragic bin lorry crash which killed six people and this year's historic independence vote in their Christmas messages.
With five women and one man killed after a bin lorry ploughed into pedestrians and shoppers in Glasgow's George Square earlier this week, Labour's Jim Murphy, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats all paid their own tributes.
The rival politicians also used their festive messages to recall how 2014 had been "a year like no other'' for Scottish politics with the vote on independence, which saw the country opt to stay part of the UK.
After the bin lorry crash in Glasgow on Monday, new Scottish Labour leader Mr Murphy said that "what has been an extraordinary year for Scotland is ending on a note of great sadness and pain''.
He said: "The tragic events in Glasgow on Monday mean that for those most closely affected, this time of year will be forever linked with loss and heartache.''
Ms Davidson said that the "events in Glasgow in the last few days remind us to hold our loved ones close this Christmas''.
The Conservative added: "No-one expects to wave their husband, wife, sister or gran off to do some last-minute Christmas shopping without them coming home again.
"The accident in George Square was shocking and senseless. It leaves us numb and uncomprehending - how can you ever guard against something like that? How can you stop it happening to those you love?''
But she said: "The selfless acts we have heard of from shoppers and passers-by who immediately tried to help, along with the dedication and professionalism of our emergency services, shows our love, resilience and care.''
Ms Davidson continued: "This Christmas, my thoughts are with those who have been affected by events, the injured and the bereaved.
"They are with fire crews, paramedics, police officers, nurses and doctors who were on duty on Monday, and their colleagues who continue to keep us safe and well, working hard while we are enjoying our time off.''
Scottish Lib Dem leader Mr Rennie also said: "Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy in Glasgow. We will stand with them as they deal with their pain and grief in the time ahead.''
Mr Murphy added the crash had been a "terrible ending to a remarkable year'' in which Scotland had hosted the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
He continued: "It has been a year like no other in politics. The referendum was passionate on both sides. It was exciting, a time when politics made a difference and people took part.''
But he stressed: "Whether we voted Yes or No in the referendum, we all want to build a fairer, better country.
"We are all proud of our nation's history, because no country our size has ever shaped the world quite as much as Scotland.
"So, let's use that pride and passion to build the fairest nation on earth here in this land.''
He said he was "sickened by the fact that our nation, as prosperous as it is, still relies on food banks'' as he said that Christmas should be "a time to think of those less fortunate than ourselves''.
Ms Davidson urged people to remember those who "feel lonely at this time of year, or who are hurting''.
She said: "Whether those feelings are a result of infirmity, bereavement or isolation, I urge everyone to think of others this Christmas, and to extend a hand of friendship where it may do some good.
"A simple visit or conversation can be enough to brighten someone's day or make them feel cared for.
"There will be a lot of people hugging their family a bit tighter this year.''
Mr Rennie said: "I have a special thought this year for the many thousands who have a mental illness.
"My plea is for everyone to reach out and offer a hand of friendship at what could be a difficult time in their lives. A small gesture from you might make a big difference to them.''
He also used his Christmas message to look ahead to the implementation of the Smith Commission proposals on further devolution in 2015.
Devolution would not have been possible without Liberal Democrats in Westminster and Holyrood and their predecessors, who have argued for "home rule'' for over a century, he said.
"A Scottish welfare system, £20 billion of taxes and the first steps to a federal Britain are just some of the great powers we have won,'' Mr Rennie stated.
"I am relishing the opportunity to use the home rule powers of which for a century my Liberal predecessors could only dream.''