Public Inquiry into Smyllum Orphanage nightmare

Memorial...to the children of Smyllum
Memorial...to the children of Smyllum

THE nightmare endured by youngsters at Lanark and Carstairs children’s homes decades ago is finally to be probed in a full-blown Public Inquiry.

As the Gazette went to press this week the Scottish Government’s education minister Angela Constance was due to announce that the long wait for justice for the now ageing ex-inmates of the Smyllum and St Charles orphanages is nearly over.

One ex-orphan at the now long-closed Lanark orphange told the Gazette this week: “This will mean the end of a half century of private hell. At last the full truth will come out.”

The Gazette has, over many years, highlighted the battle for recognition of the wrongs done to the children in the ‘care’ of the Order of nuns running the homes, the Sisters of Charity.

It was only recently that a memorial stone was erected in Lanark’s St Mary’s Cemetery to represent the estimated 100 orphans buried there in unmarked graves over the century the Smyllum orphange operated. After years of individually coping with the memories of the sexual, physical and mental abuse they suffered at the orphanages, many of those victims - claiming their whole lives had been blighted by their childhood treatment - banded together in a pressure group called INCAS (In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland).

Its local spokesman, Frank Docherty, said: “Two members of our executive from INCAS had a meeting with Angela Constance and she has said that she will be making an announcement about the Public Inquiry in the Scottish Parliament Chambers on the afternoon of May 28.”