On Tuesday 29th November, speaking in a Holyrood debate on the impact of Brexit on culture, creative industries and tourism, local MSP Ruth Maguire MSP focused her attention on the personal cultural enrichment that comes from freedom of movement within the EU.
Whilst acknowledging the importance of the practical and financial benefits of EU membership, such as access to European funding avenues, Ruth highlighted the personal enrichment and benefits of the cultural interchange that stems from free movement.
Illustrating this with a story relating to her Cunninghame South constituency, Ruth told the chamber how a young French man came to fall in love with Scotland and its culture, as well as a Scottish lass, when he first came on a year abroad exchange three years ago, and recently returned to Scotland to pursue a PhD in Scottish Literature. On Saturday 3rd December, the young man, Paul Malgrati, was welcomed to Irvine by members of the Irvine Members Club, where he was able to share his passion for Burns and learn more about him and his work with like-minded people.
Ruth also used her speech to condemn the isolationist and unwelcoming signals being sent to the world by UK Tory Government plans to heavily restrict immigration in the aftermath of Brexit.
Speaking, Ruth said:
‘I am sure that we all know stories of people who came to Scotland to work or study and stayed as personal relationships and ties developed. Some of us will also know how fearful some of those people are for their future.
Culture may well transcend boundaries and borders, but it is arguable that more important than whether somebody has to get a visa is whether they want to go somewhere in the first place—whether they feel welcome.
I want people who have chosen to make Scotland their home to hear this loud and clear: you are welcome here and your contribution is valued, most importantly for the personal richness that a multicultural society brings to all our lives’