On Saturday at 2pm, the Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP will lead this year’s New York Tartan Day Parade as Grand Marshal – marking the culmination of Holyrood’s Scotland Week activities in America.
The annual parade comes at the end of a programme of meetings and activities attended by the Presiding Officer and the Scottish Parliament delegation across four US states.
Speaking before the parade, Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “Scotland Week has become an important event for Scots both in America and at home, providing an opportunity to celebrate the best our nation has to offer and to forge links with the US.
“The Scottish Parliament is one of the newest legislatures in the world and one of the key things that has brought me to the States this week is to learn from their experience and knowledge as fellow legislators.
“I believe the contacts made during the course of Scotland Week this year will herald the start of many fruitful collaborations between our politicians, academics and businesses in vital areas.”
The Presiding Officer’s Scotland Week
Arriving in New York on 3 April, the Presiding Officer started the Scotland Run in Central Park with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Culture and External Affairs.
Easter Sunday was marked by Mr Fergusson with readings at Brick Presbyterian Church. Later that day, the delegation celebrated Tartan Day at Ellis Island – the gateway to America for an estimated half a million Scots. They met the organisers of the 'Scotland's Gifts' exhibition, which has been showcasing Scottish achievements to the large number of visitors, from across the world, visiting Ellis Island.
The delegation’s programme on Monday reflected one of the key themes of the programme – environmental issues – as they learned more from the Mayor's office about the background to plaNYC, New York’s goal of achieving a sustainable city by 2030.
The Presiding Officer met with the Speaker of NYC Council, Christine C Quinn and discussed the wider global economic situation with Jeff Eubank, Head of Global Opportunities at the New York Stock Exchange. Mr Fergusson and the delegation also attended a Scottish themed concert at the British Memorial Garden for victims of 9/11, before showing support for young Scottish design at the Dressed to Kilt fashion show.
Forging links with other legislatures was another key objective of the programme, and on Tuesday in Boston, the delegation met with the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House at the General Court of Massachusetts, Therese Murray and Robert A DeLeo.
In the afternoon, Mr Fergusson met representatives of the St Andrew's Society of Massachusetts and then addressed students at Suffolk University. Later he gave a speech to an audience of more than 100 people representing Scottish and business interests at a reception hosted by the British Consul General in Boston and Scottish Development International.
Wednesday saw the Presiding Officer travel up to New Hampshire where he met with Terie Norelli – the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, before being guest of honour and speaking at an event hosted by New Hampshire Scots. The Presiding Officer later met staff and students at the acclaimed St Anselm's Institute of Politics for a discussion on the progress of the Scottish Parliament.
The delegation remained in Boston on Wednesday, continuing on from a number of meetings held on Tuesday. As well as visiting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to discuss green transport and climate change the delegates also met with a range of specialists to discuss a number of other areas including transportation, low carbon issues and energy policies.
There was a continued focus on the delegation's themes on Thursday in Washington with meetings with the US High Speed Rail Association, the American Public Transportation Association and the Sierra Club – the US’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organisation, founded by Scot John Muir – before the delegation headed to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Presiding Officer delivered a very well-received keynote speech to the Opening General Session of the NCSL, covering the last decade of devolution and outlining the lessons that can be shared between Scotland and states within America on the green agenda. The delegation remained at NCSL and heard a speech from Steven Chu, US Secretary of State for Energy, which set out the US perspective on the green agenda.
The following morning the Presiding Officer and delegation were guests at the Agriculture and Energy and Labor and Economic Committee Sessions at the conference before joining a plenary session which included a presentation by Mr Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The delegation will now produce a report on the key issues discussed during its meetings to inform the work of the relevant parliamentary committees in Scotland. It will also facilitate contact and information exchange between the organisations it met during the visit and interested parties in Scotland.
National Tartan Day, held on 6 April every year, is the key date at the centre of the range of events known as ‘Scotland Week’ (as it has been termed since 2008). This date recognises a resolution passed in the US House of Representatives in 1998, to commemorate the day and celebrate Scottish heritage.
Scotland Week is a key opportunity each year to promote the Scottish Parliament in North America. The Parliament has been participating since 2000.
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which the Presiding Officer addressed on 8 April, is a bipartisan organisation that serves the legislators and staff of America’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas.
The anticipated cost for the Scottish Parliament’s participation in Scotland Week will be under £30,000.
You can now get in touch with the Parliament by text message. Our interactive service enables you to get the name of your MSP by sending your postcode, lets you ask questions about the Parliament and its work, and enables you to request a selection of free leaflets. The number to take advantage of is 07786 209888. Texts are charged at standard network rates. More details can be found on our Text Service page.