Devolution campaigner Canon Kenyon Wright dies at 84

Canon Kenyon Wright in 2014. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Canon Kenyon Wright in 2014. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Canon Kenyon Wright, who played a central role in the creation of the Scottish Parliament, has died at the age of 84.

His death was announced by the Scottish Government on behalf of Canon Wright’s family.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Canon Kenyon Wright and my thoughts are with his family.

“He is a great loss to Scotland’s political, civic and religious communities. His input to the creation of the Scottish Parliament cannot be overstated.

“His chairmanship of the Scottish constitutional convention, which led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, was testament to his strength of character, tenacity and charisma.

“He was able to bring together the different strands of Scottish politics and society to achieve consensus about the way ahead for Scottish devolution.

“His legacy will live on through the work of the Scottish Parliament.”

The former Episcopalian priest was the executive chair of the Scottish constitutional convention from 1989-99 and was a member of the consultative steering group on the Scottish Parliament.

He continued to play a role in Scottish politics and voiced concerns over growing centralisation and a restriction of the powers of local councils a decade ago, and in 2014 he backed a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

The Scottish Government said Canon Wright died peacefully at home on Wednesday.

A family funeral is to be held next week, with a memorial service being organised over the next few months.

Former first minister Alex Salmond said his passing “will be mourned by many”.

“Canon Kenyon Wright was one of the great spirits of the movement of self-government,” Mr Salmond said.

“His role in the Scottish constitutional convention showed a patience, commitment and determination of extraordinary dimensions.

“In more recent times, his willingness to embrace the independence cause demonstrated that his belief in Scotland transcended any political party or particular position - his guiding light was the right of self-determination of the people of Scotland.

“Scotland has cause to be grateful for the life of our very own grand canon and his passing will be mourned by many.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said Canon Wright’s campaigning was “a vital reason why we have a Scottish Parliament today” and named him alongside Donald Dewar as a “giant” of devolution.

She said: “For generations to come there will be a parliament in Edinburgh that makes decisions affecting the everyday lives of Scots, and that is the wonderful legacy he leaves behind.

“The day before the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999, Canon Kenyon Wright handed the Claim of Right to Donald Dewar.

“That document now resides in the Donald Dewar Room in the Scottish Parliament, a fitting reminder of what was achieved by these giants of Scotland’s devolution movement.”