Scotland’s first French-born MSP has been sworn in at Holyrood. Christian Allard, originally from Dijon, replaces SNP backbencher Mark McDonald who resigned from his North East regional seat to contest the Aberdeen Donside constituency by-election in June.
In a distinct French accent, the 49-year-old made a non-religious affirmation and repeated it in his first language in front of MSPs in the debating chamber.
“I came to Scotland many years ago with few academic qualifications,” he said in a statement released by the SNP.
“I never went to university but am proud to have worked hard all of my life. I’ve raised three daughters here and I’m proud to call Scotland my home. It’s a wonderfully welcoming country with such huge potential.
“There are huge opportunities for the north-east but we must ensure that we have the skills to harness them, particularly among our young people.”
Mr Allard moved to Scotland more than 25 years ago to open an office with a European seafood transport firm in Glasgow.
He married a Scot and moved to the north-east to work for a seafood exporting company. His wife died a number of years ago, the SNP said.
He joined the party almost 10 years ago after forming his view on independence from experiences in the fishing industry. Mr Allard worked for Dennis Robertson’s office in the successful attempt to get him elected to the Aberdeenshire West constituency two years ago.
He said: “It is a great honour to be sworn in as a representative of the North East’s of Scotland in Parliament today, although I would have wished to have joined Parliament in happier circumstances.
“Brian Adam was a wonderful representative for the people of the North East, and built up a very strong SNP team in the region.”
Regional MSPs are elected according to votes given to the party, rather than individuals, meaning the SNP can automatically top up their quota with Mr Allard who was on the party’s North East list but failed to win a place at the last Holyrood election.
The use of more than one language has become more common at Holyrood. After the 2011 election, Italian, Urdu and Gaelic were heard alongside Scots and the Doric dialect.