MSPs from around the north-east who are not standing for re-election have given their last speeches to parliament.
The Scottish Parliament has now formally entered a pre-election recess before the upcoming elections are held in May.
This is being done to ensure that the election can take place fairly and safely.
A number of MSPs from across the north-east have announced they are not seeking re-election, and have now given their last speeches in Holyrood.
They include SNP’s Stewart Stevenson, who represented Banffshire and Buchan Coast and Maureen Watt, of Aberdeen South and North Kincardine.
Scottish Conservatives Peter Chapman and Tom Mason, both representing the north-east region, will also not be standing again.
While, north-east region MSPs Lewis Macdonald, Scottish Labour, and Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles will not stand again, and neither will independent Mark McDonald, who represented Aberdeen Donside.
Tom Mason, who was elected in 2017, paid tribute to both Scottish Parliament staff and his family while stepping down – particularly after a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s. He will remain in his role as councillor for Rosemount and Midstocket.
He said: “It’s been a privilege to represent the north east at the parliament for the past four years. There are many highs and lows as you would expect in politics, but I have always tried to make a real difference for constituents on local matters.
“One kind of powerful tranquiliser contributes to one drug death in Aberdeen every fortnight. Across Scotland the number of deaths attributed to cocktails of drugs including alprazolam has reached a crisis point.
“I have campaigned on raising awareness of this issue and note that the Scottish government has committed to addressing cuts in drug and alcohol services, in line with Scottish Conservative demands. This next parliament will see whether the outcomes match the stated intent.”
Fellow Scottish Conservative Peter Chapman made his last speech in Doric and spoke of his hope it could continue to be used in both politics and in schools.
He said: “One of the maist memorable speeches I hiv delivered in the last five years was the ane I did in my ain north-east tongue — the Doric.
“Fin I pit it on the Facebook, it wint viral, an I’ve hid aboot twa hunner an sivinty thoosan hits fae a ower the world.
“At jist gings tae show hoo important the Scots language is tae sae mony folk an foo important it is tae wir heritage an wir culture.
“I wid love tae see wir Scots language pit on an equal fittin wi Gaelic an get the same level o support an fundin as Gaelic gets.”
Meanwhile SNP’s Stewart Stevenson, who was an MSP from 2001 until 2021, is retiring, but will take up the helm as national secretary for the SNP.In his final speech, he said he would continue to remain passionate about climate change, after speaking in the debate on the Scottish Government’s climate change plan.
He said: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as the MSP for Banff and Buchan and latterly Banffshire and Buchan Coast.
“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues past and present – both those who have gone on to other things and those who are sadly no longer with us.
“The role of an MSP is to challenge and change and represent the people of your constituency with determination to improve their lives for the better.
“We should encourage more people from all walks of life to pursue a role in politics including the continued encouragement of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities so that the Parliament is one which represents us all.”
Independent Mark McDonald added: “It has been an absolute privilege to have served the constituency of Aberdeen Donside, and prior to that the north-east region, for the past decade, and I thank the constituents and organisations who have given me the honour of representing them and working alongside them.”