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Tributes after MSP Helen Eadie dies

Politicians from across the spectrum have paid tribute to Labour MSP Helen Eadie, who has died at the age of 66 after battling cancer.

Mrs Eadie had served as an MSP since the Scottish Parliament's inception in 1999, first as the member for Dunfermline East and later as MSP for Cowdenbeath following boundary changes.

She died just days after it emerged she was being treated in a hospice at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, following her diagnosis on October 24.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont paid tribute to a politician of "tremendous passion and commitment".

"Like many others, I was deeply saddened to hear of Helen's death this morning," she said.

"Helen was very precious to her family. She played an important part in helping to establish the credibility of Holyrood. She will also be fondly remembered within the Scottish co-operative movement. Her commitment to delivering change in our communities was the essence of her political beliefs and values.

"She was her own woman who didn't fit the political stereotype. Perhaps that's why some underestimated her, but her difference was why she was admired by the people of her constituency.

"She will be missed by many and will be remembered across her constituency in standing up for their needs and concerns."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said Fife was mourning a "much-loved and well-respected" figure.

He said: "Well-known in all the different communities of the area from Kelty and Ballingry to Rosyth, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay, Helen will be remembered as a passionate champion of social justice, putting the case for women's equality, for youth employment and for better care of the elderly.

"Our thoughts today are with her husband, Bob, and her daughters, Fiona and Gemma."

First Minister Alex Salmond said the politician had served the people she represented "diligently".

"Helen was also one of the Scottish Parliament's original MSPs, first elected in 1999, and that unbroken 14-year period at Holyrood is a not inconsiderable record of public service of which her family can be rightly proud," he said.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson paid tribute to a " wonderful, warm-hearted" woman who would "always go the extra mile to help someone out".

"She had friends across all parties, and Scottish politics is poorer for her passing," Ms Davidson said.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: " As fellow parliamentarians for West Fife, Helen's intense, burning commitment to socialism was inspiring to observe.

"Although a gentle and kind lady, you did not cross Helen without suffering from the sharp end of her tongue.

"Helen made waves for her causes and her constituents."

Scottish Parliament p residing officer Tricia Marwick MSP said: "In debate, Helen's contributions were passionate, but she could also use humour to good effect. She was well-liked and well-respected across the political divide and will be very much missed at Holyrood."

Mrs Eadie was born in Stenhousemuir, near Falkirk, and was educated at Larbert Village School, Larbert High and Falkirk Technical College.

She went on to graduate from the London School of Economics with a certificate in trade union studies.

She worked as a member of Fife Regional Council before being elected to the former Dunfermline East constituency in 1999.

Mrs Eadie was an active member of the Church of Scotland and had served on the Scottish Parliament's Health, Transport, Public Petitions and European and External Relations Committees.

She was campaigning for her newly elected Labour colleague, Cara Hilton, in the Dunfermline by-election in the days before her diagnosis and was later said to have been conducting parliamentary business from her hospital bed.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband wrote on Twitter: "Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Helen Eadie. A passionate, determined and committed MSP. She will be sorely missed."

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