Scotland politics

Sturgeon urges Scots to build on referendum 'empowerment'

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon was reflecting on 2014 and laying out her priorities for the coming year

Nicola Sturgeon has called for the enthusiasm and engagement of the independence referendum to be harnessed to build a better Scotland in 2015.

In her new year message, the first minister reflected on an "extraordinary" year and laid out her priorities for the coming one.

The SNP leader also highlighted the work of Scotland's NHS and emergency services staff.

She praised those who responded to the Glasgow bin lorry crash.

The first minister also remembered those killed and injured in the tragedy.

'Heartfelt thanks'

Speaking at Glasgow Southern General Hospital's maternity unit, she said: "The terrible events in Glasgow last week reminded us again of how much we owe our emergency services.

"Day in, day out, our police, ambulance and fire services go beyond the call of duty to look after us.

"Our thoughts and prayers today remain with the bereaved and all those affected by last week's tragedy; and our heartfelt thanks go to those who are rallying round to provide them with love and support.

"Despite the great sadness of recent days, there is no doubt that 2014 has been the most extraordinary year for our country.

"Our economy has grown and unemployment has fallen. We hosted a hugely successful Ryder Cup and staged the best-ever Commonwealth Games.

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Image caption Ms Sturgeon gave her New Year's message on a visit to the maternity unit at Glasgow's Southern General

"We had a referendum recognised around the world as a shining example of democratic engagement. A referendum that - regardless of which way you voted - empowered all of us in this country like never before."

The first minister added: "As the bells chime on Hogmanay, I hope that the spirit of empowerment that so lit up 2014 will guide us into the new year. Let's resolve not to slip back to business as usual.

"Instead, let us harness the wonderful enthusiasm and engagement of 2014 and use it to build a fairer and more prosperous Scotland for these babies to grow up in."

Ms Sturgeon said she would work to support and improve the NHS, expand childcare, close the attainment gap between schools, develop modern apprenticeships and create "opportunities for all".

She said: "The simple fact is that if we can give every child here a fair chance to fulfil their potential, we will build a stronger, happier and more successful country.

"Doing everything I can to make that a reality is my new year resolution and it is one my government - in partnership with many across our country - will be focused on throughout next year."

Scotland's opposition party leaders have also issued new year messages.

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