2014 poised to be year to remember

I WOULD like to wish all Evening Times readers a very Happy New Year.

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Whatever 2014 has in store for you I wish you and your families health and happiness.

Glasgow and Scotland are at the beginning of a truly amazing year, and there is so much to look forward to.

The eyes of the world are on Scotland as we prepare for a wealth of exciting events.

In July and August our city will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games - a celebration of sport, culture and amazing opportunities and the largest sporting event Scotland has ever seen.

We have already seen enthusiasm across Glasgow, Scotland and the world for the Games, with more than 50,000 people applying to be volunteers and tickets selling out in record time.

Scotland will also host the Year of Homecoming and the Ryder Cup, enticing many people from across the globe to visit Scotland and experience our hospitality.

September 18 will present an historic opportunity for us as a nation.

Residents in Scotland over the age of 16 will have the chance to vote for Scotland to become an independent country.

As the First Minister said in his New Year message, let's not wake up on the morning of September 19 and wonder what could have been.

You can read about the Scottish Government's vision for an independent Scotland in the most detailed independence blueprint ever produced - Scotland's Future: Your Guide to An Independent Scotland, and make sure that you register to vote in the referendum.

Recently a lot of the press has focused on the fact that from the beginning of this year, Bulgarians and Romanians have gained the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens.

Some predicted a 'flood' of immigrants on the first day of January.

However, many Romanians and Bulgarians arriving in the UK were returning to jobs they already had - including doctors and nurses.

It is also important to remember that economic migrants contribute hugely to our country through their hard work, and we should welcome people who choose to make Scotland their home.

The same EU regulations which allow citizens of Romania and Bulgaria to work in the UK also mean that Scots can live and work elsewhere in the EU without visas or work permits.

The Institute for Public Policy Research estimate that 1 million people from the UK live in Spain, and 330,000 UK nationals live in France - showing that migration works both ways.

That is not to bury our heads in the sand - yes there can be tensions surrounding migration.

However, the sort of rhetoric to which we have been subjected over much of last week only inflames the situation.

I'm sure that anybody choosing to come and live and work in Glasgow from the EU will be welcomed and made to feel very much at home, just as my family was in the 1960s.

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