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Westminster parliament address by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was proud moment


By Contributor

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In my last column I mentioned the conflict in Ukraine following the illegal and unwarranted invasion by Russia.

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Against most expectations, more than a month later, the people of Ukraine continue to fight back; defending their country and their freedoms. The death toll of innocent men, women and children however is a sad reminder of the true cost of war.

I had the honour and privilege of being in the House of Commons when President Zelensky addressed members of Parliament. I have never seen the chamber so full or united in our support for the people of Ukraine.

MPs packed onto the benches and despite 500 headpieces being available to listen to the translation, many of us had to share, such was the demand to witness such a historic address.

There are many times I have to pinch myself doing this job. It’s such a great privilege, but that address will go down as one of the most moving and special many MPs, myself included, will ever witness.

As the standing ovation continued at the end of President Zelensky’s remarks, he acknowledged our support and then left to go back to leading his government and the military response in Ukraine that has rightly won admiration from around the globe.

Closer to home we recently had the decision from the Bank of Scotland that they were closing their Forres branch, which is the last bank in the town. This is a devasting blow to individuals and businesses who rely on the bank.

The response from bosses has been pathetic. They first tried to appease me by saying customers could move to the TSB, not knowing they announced last year the Forres branch was closing.

I then secured an urgent meeting with executives in Westminster, but it was a complete waste of time. They refused to consider keeping the branch open and had the cheek to say they would listen to customers.

When I said, “that’s great, send one of the bosses to Moray and I’ll host a public meeting”, all of sudden they were less keen to hear from people and refused to come up and address the many valid concerns people about these plans. I won’t give up and have written again urging them to come to Forres and engage with branch users, and hopefully change their mind.

Finally, we had the long awaited Scottish Government response to the independent review into Moray maternity services this week.

The review findings were published in December and only now are we getting the formal response.

In that time Moray mums and families have continued to live with the fear of being transferred in labour and indeed one Moray mum had to give birth in a layby on the A96 as she was being transferred to Aberdeen.

I’m pleased to see the government plan to restore a consultant-led unit at Dr Gray’s but there is no detail on when that will happen, or timescales. Ministers and the health board will have to meet to achieve this.

This will be crucial as we have been promised much in the past that simply hasn’t been delivered.

  • Douglas Ross is Conservative MP for Moray.

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