Tributes have been paid to the former vice-president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Michael "Mick" McGahey, who was also Scottish president of the NUM, was born in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, in 1925 and started working in the mines immediately after leaving school at the age of 14.

In a speech given in 1968 to the STUC, Mr McGahey made the case for devolution and is credited as having played a key role in the decision to create the Scottish Parliament.

But Mr McGahey never saw the Parliament in Edinburgh open on May 12, 1999 as he died aged 74 on January 30 of that year.

His ashes were buried within the foundations of the Parliament.
His family joined former Scottish miners and MSPs outside Holyrood on Wednesday to lay a wreath honouring his lifetime's work.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "It was an honour to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Mick McGahey, whose ashes are buried in the foundations of the Scottish Parliament.

"Mick's defence of the working class and trade unions continues to inspire."
Several Scottish Labour MSPs paid tribute to the legacy of Mr McGahey on Twitter after attending the ceremony.

Alex Rowley wrote: "Honoured to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony with the family of Mick McGahey outside the Scottish Parliament today.

"His ashes are buried under the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament and shows his testament to delivering a Scottish Parliament and fighting for his class."

Labour MSP for Lothians Neil Findlay wrote: "Delighted to host NUM legend Michael McGahey's family, friends and comrades today to lay wreaths at the Scottish Parliament on the 20th anniversary of his death - Michael was instrumental in getting the STUC to support the plan to establish a Scottish Parliament."

There have been calls to create a national memorial in the Scottish Parliament in tribute to those who worked in the mines.

A Scottish Government spokesman said any proposals for such a memorial would be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Pat Egan, a former miner in Scotland, described Mr McGahey as an "inspirational leader" and praised his decision to take a stand on issues that were not always popular during his time.

"He was an exceptional leader and had an art of bringing people together. It's important that his role is remembered," said Mr Egan.

"Mick will be remembered by the miners as a pillar of working-class communities in Scotland, and we want to see that his legacy, and the legacy of the mining communities, lives on."