Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Article for the JOURNAL by Conrad Bryan

This article especially resonated with me as it encapsulates a plan of action which has already been tried and tested in other countries and gives a fantastic overview. I am also mixed race of South African heritage and don't often come across others with such a particular blend ;-) so that's cool too.

AS A FORMER child resident of a mother and baby home in the 1960s, I am very concerned at how “Institutional Ireland” is still failing survivors of residential institutions.
The announcement by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, that he is planning to give ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity order is deeply disappointing. This Order was named in the 2009 Ryan Report on child abuse which stated that they “never issued a general public apology in respect of child abuse” and it still has not fully paid its 5 million debt to the redress scheme.
The Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, also said recently that she would not consider redress for survivors under the 2002 redress scheme. This is despite there being unaccompanied children who spent their whole childhood lives in these and other institutions, after exiting mother and baby homes, who were not in the previous redress scheme.
Others were in institutions that are being excluded from the list for investigation. Mothers of forced/illegal adoptions also have genuine grievances.
Transitional Justice
The Minister for Children also said that she is considering “Transitional Justice” as a means of giving voice to former residents of the mother and baby homes and to raise public awareness and understanding of this sad period in our history. While I welcome this initiative, I am not aware of anyone who simply wants to give “voice” to their stories in public. They just want truth and justice.
Presently, there seems to be a deep frustration with institutional Ireland who simply do not know how to deal with survivors and the trauma and legacy of institutional abuse and neglect. There seems to be a “them and us” mentality between State and survivor, leading to a real sense of hopelessness as to what to do and how to move forward.
The reason I welcomed the transitional justice idea is that I know it means much more than just giving victims a “voice”. Historically, it has always been about seeking truth and justice for past wrongs and human rights abuses. More importantly, it has also been about accountability, healing and reconciliation. We can learn a lot from the transitional justice model of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) in Canada and South Africa.
This proposal reminded me of my black grandparents in South Africa. During the Apartheid regime they were forcefully removed from their home in Sofiatown, Johannesburg, as their township was regarded by the State as a “black spot in a white area”.
The TRC raised many questions for me about the long-term value of it to black people in South Africa. Some of my relatives feel too many people got away with impunity as the TRC granted amnesties and some people are still looking for the remains of their loved ones even to this day. However, the TRC has been credited with bringing stability and enhanced understanding of the human rights abuses in South Africa.
In Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation commission made significant recommendations about how to deal with national reconciliation with their aboriginal people. Many were placed in residential institutions where they were abused or neglected. Their cultural identities were erased as a way of assimilating them into a European Christian culture. Stories of our own Irish children of African/mixed-race and Traveller heritage who were put into institutions resonate.
I believe we too could benefit from some form of national reconciliation process. One that would include all parties: the State, the Church, and family relatives and the public. Many knew what was happening back then.
What would this reconciliation process look like?
If we look to the Canadian experience, we would set up the Irish Museum for Human Rights to reflect stories and histories of mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries, industrial schools etc. The design and management of it would take full account of the views and sensitivities of survivors. It would also include a separate space for histories of other human rights struggles like Traveller, LGBT, and women’s rights. The Church and State would also be reflected, for example I would like to know stories from nuns about pressure to enter convents, and stories about the role of politicians.
This museum would act as a space for public learning and reflection so these abuses do not happen again. It would also hold death registers and information on cemeteries at the institutions around Ireland and provide genealogy service for relatives and descendants. The design of the museum  would take full account of the wishes and views of survivors.
There would also be a National Research Centre or Truth and Reconciliation centre where people and former residents can do research on residential institutions. It would hold archives from all investigations. It would also act as a learning centre. There would be a commitment from State and Church authorities that this past would be written into the history books at schools, colleges and seminaries.
Finally to show it is serious about this issue, the government could take ownership of the last Magdalene Laundry site on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin for the above Museum, T&C Centre and memorial. This would go some way towards healing and mutual understanding as well as putting human rights at the centre of Irish life.
Conrad Bryan is a board member and treasurer of the charity Irish in Britain which represents and supports the Irish community across the UK, particularly vulnerable groups. He is also on the board of AMRI , the Association of Mixed Race Irish, which works to raise awareness of this small community of people with mixed parentage. Outside his charitable activities Conrad is employed in the travel technology sector and is currently living in London. He was born in Ireland of Irish South African heritage.

Link


See below the objectives of Transitional Justice according to Wikipedia

Objectives[edit]

The primary objective of a transitional justice policy is to end the culture of impunity and establish the rule of law in a context of democratic governance. The legal and human rights protection roots of transitional justice impute certain legal obligations on states undergoing transitions. It challenges such societies to strive for a society where respect for human rights is the core and accountability is routinely practiced as the main goals. In the context of these goals, transitional justice aims at:
  • Halting ongoing human rights abuses;
  • Investigating past crimes;
  • Identifying those responsible for human rights violations;
  • Imposing sanctions on those responsible (where it can);
  • Providing reparations to victims;
  • Preventing future abuses;
  • Security Sector Reform;
  • Preserving and enhancing peace; and
  • Fostering individual and national reconciliation.
In general, therefore, one can identify eight broad objectives that transitional justice aims to serve: establishing the truth, providing victims a public platform, holding perpetrators accountable, strengthening the rule of law, providing victims with compensation, effectuating institutional reform, promoting reconciliation, and promoting public deliberation.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Roscommon Children's Literary Festival June 2017

Really looking forward to visiting:

Cloontuskert NS, Lanesboro, Co Roscommon
Ballyfeeney NS, Scramogue, Co Roscommon on June 8th to deliver workshops on WB Yeats.


https://issuu.com/roscommonartscentre/docs/bookworms_festival_brochure_2017

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Boston College Findings on Tuam Mother and Baby Home in 2012

Article in Irish Central by Frances Mulraney dated May 22

Boston College informed an Irish inquiry investigating the Tuam Mother and Baby home about concerns regarding the home’s worryingly high infant mortality rate a full two years before the death rate of the home’s children were ever revealed to the public, the Irish Examiner has reported.
On February 21, 2012, Professor Jim Smith of Boston College and the Justice for Magdalenes Research group sent information to the chairperson of the McAleese inquiry, Senator Martin McAleese, about the death rate in excess of 50 percent within the mother and baby home. This was two years before Tuam would become international headlines as the scandal of the infant mortality rates was revealed.
The McAleese inquiry was an inter-departmental committee established by the Irish government in 2011 to establish the facts of the Irish state's involvement with the Magdalene laundries. It was founded under a recommendation from the United Nations Committee Against Torture to investigate the claims that women sent to work in the Catholic laundries were exploited and tortured.
In 2013, the McAleese committee released its report which found there had been significant state collusion in the admission of some 11,000 Irish women into these institutions and Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a formal state apology and outlined a compensation package for the victims two weeks after its publication.
The report, however, did not include any of the information provided by Boston College, as it was considered to be out of their remit in the Magdalen Laundries concentrated report.
“According to the returns submitted to the government, 12 of the 22 ‘illegitimate’ children from Co Mayo born at the Baby Home, Tuam, died within the year. Likewise, 25 of the 49 ‘illegitimate’ children from Co. Galway born at the Baby Home, Tuam, for the same period also died,” Prof Smith wrote in a letter to McAleese, highlighting a 1948 Government survey which recorded the number of deaths in these homes for the year ending March 31, 1947.
“This information reveals how dangerous an environment the Baby Home, Tuam could be for illegitimate children in residence,” he continued, emphasizing the infant mortality rates of 55% and 51% for children sent to the home from Mayo and Galway that year.
“Such disturbing statistics certainly begs the question as to whether these children would have been better off remaining in their mother’s care.”
The Irish Examiner has previously revealed that the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) had concerns about the infant mortality rates in both Tuam and in another mother and baby home in Bessborough, Co. Cork, in the same year.
In 2012, a damning report by the Irish government’s Health Service Executive (HSE) found that the Irish Catholic mother and child home in Bessborough had a baby mortality rate of 68% in 1943. This report was not released to the public until it was sought under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Irish Examiner in 2015. Following this revelation, women were no longer sent to the home.
The report showed that in the 19 years between 1934 and 1953, Bessborough recorded 472 infant deaths, a figure taken from the Home’s own death register.
The register has now been released under Freedom of Information although the names of the children have been redacted.  
It has been suggested that the high rate of infant mortality was caused by the falsification of death records to allow for children to be adopted domestically, and to couples abroad, without the knowledge of the Irish public.
These HSE reports were also not included in the 2014 McAleese report nor in the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mother and Baby Homes, published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in July 2014.
When asked for comment on the claims that the McAleese inquiry knew of such reports before publishing their own finding, the Irish Department of Justice stated that the inquiry “no longer exists and is therefore not in a position to respond to specific queries”.

Link:

Sunday, 21 May 2017

TUAM - The Journal- Catherine Corless

By Aoife Barry for The Journal


SURVIVORS OF THE Tuam mother and baby home, and people linked to the Tuam r
remains, are to meet with members of the Dáil in June.
The meeting follows this week’s announcement that Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone is to seek expert advice from abroad on the possible exhumation and identification of the remains.
Catherine Corless, the historian whose research led to the discovery of the human remains in sewage chambers at the Tuam site, told TheJournal.ie that she is happy with how things are progressing.
But she said that the fact a new Taoiseach is due to be appointed makes her feel “a little bit uneasy”.
“They can’t drop this now no matter who gets in,” she said.
I know there’s a lot of international pressure and lot of international groups ringing me and wondering what’s happening.
In advance of the 1 June meeting, Corless said they “are just all waiting and hoping” that what they have requested will come to pass.
“They are saying something urgent has to be done with the Tuam site – it just can’t be left as it is,” said Corless. “[Zappone] wants urgent action.”

Ministers Zappone and Simon Coveney had travelled to Tuam to meet with survivors of the home in March, as requested by Corless. “They spoke for nearly three hours,” said Corless. “She took nearly everything on board what they were looking for.”
“The main thing they wanted was an acknowledgement and an apology. As regards Tuam graveyard they wanted to know how many bodies they did actually find, and what’s going to be done – are they going to be left in the sewage area? Or are they going to be taken out, and if it is possible to take them out, is it possible to ID the remains.”
The survivors also want to know if a DNA database could be set up, so that “they might be able to find their own brother and sister”. Minister Zappone put the requests to Cabinet on Tuesday of this week.
“It seems none of the ministers disagreed with her,” said Corless.
Among the family members’ concerns are the state of the remains in Tuam, and how possible it is to identify them.
“If they are not all there I have said it: there needs to be further excavations,” said Corless.
“There is no point in just identifying half of the children. There are 796 missing. Are those adopted illegally are they in other chambers underground? They need to be accounted for. There are coffin burials, I know that from my research there are coffin burials under a playground put in the 80s.”
Corless has given the Commission of Inquiry into the Tuam babies case the maps of where the other chambers and cess pits on the site are. “I would be able to tell them more-or-less exactly where to dig,” said Corless.
She has also suggested that the Bon Secours sisters, who ran the Tuam home, should use some of their money to fund a DNA bank and the exhumation. She said this would be a “wonderful gesture” and could “maybe make up for the tragedy that went on in the 30s, 40s, and 50s in Tuam.”
“We know they are a multimillionaire company with the hospitals they have and wouldn’t it be a wonderful gesture as a statement of apology,” she said.
Corless said that she and the survivors have not had any contact with the Bon Secours sisters, despite her trying for the past number of years.
“I believed from the start they have the answers,” she said.
When Minister Zappone announced the discovery of human remains at the Tuam site, Corless told TheJournal.ie at the time that it felt like a vindication for her. Speaking this week, she said she was touched by the response she has received since from the local community.
“I really expected an uproar from the community on the Dublin Road housing estate [where the remains were found],” she said. But instead, the locals held an evening of remembrance for the babies buried there – and they presented Corless with a bunch of flowers at the event.
They also told her that “they never realised the playground was on top of other children and they were horrified by that. It was a lovely peaceful evening.”
She said the response has been “the most wonderful turn around really and truly. I’ve never come across any hostility from anybody.”
Right now, Corless is researching for the ‘home babies’, or those who lived at the home and survived.
“There are so many of them around,” she said. “And still more approaching me. It is just unreal, all those people have been in our vicinity for so many years and it’s only now you realise this is very alive, very much in the present.”
She has been contacted by people from the USA and England, as well as Ireland, looking for information on their families.
A statement from Zappone’s department this week said that the Tuam site “remains sealed and secured as it was at the time of the Commission’s announcement of the discovery of human remains”.
The Commission had removed a small sample of remains as part of its excavations to assist in confirming the nature of the discovery.
Her department said she is working with her Cabinet colleagues “to ensure decisions are taken on the future of the site as quickly, as effectively and as sensitively as possible”.
The Government wholeheartedly supports the steps being taken by Minister Zappone to secure expert technical advice both national and international so that decisions on the approach to be adopted are informed by international best practices in this highly specialised area.
The questions to be addressed include whether excavations should proceed and if identification of remains is possible.
Minister Zappone announced the publishing of the second interim report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes this week.
It did not make findings that abuse occurred in mother and baby homes, but noted that its investigations are not yet complete.
She said that since the Commission announced the discovery of human remains at the Tuam location, she has “been working with Government colleagues to establish an inclusive process of engagement with former residents, their families and other stakeholders with a view to building a consensus on how the sensitive issues which arise can be addressed”.
It is essential that this process respects the memory and dignity of the deceased children who lived their short lives in this home. Galway County Council is the owner of the site and it will have a central role in progressing matters. I also understand that the Council has been liaising directly with the Commission and has written to the Coroner around these matters.
“I am anxious that decisions on the future of the site in Tuam are progressed as a matter of urgency and I hope to revert to Government very shortly with proposals,” said Zappone.
Article by Aoife Barry

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Duplessis Orphans - Canada


This post was tagged on the Tuam Spirit Babies Facebook page recently by composer Alyssa Rivers. I hadn't heard of the Duplessis Orphans and with trepidation of what I might find googled the subject. What I discovered was deeply disturbing and so horrific that it has taken almost a fortnight to get over it. Just imagine living with the terrorising aftermath of the actual events. HORRIFIC. We need to keep reading these articles and keep being SHOCKED because these atrocities were carried out time and time again by RELIGIOUS ORDERS on innocent babies and children and the RELIGIOUS still own valuable swathes of land and assets built on the blood and bones of the innocents in their 'supposed care'. It's time to call it out-once and for all.

What is genocide? In 1944, Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) coined the term "genocide" in a book documenting Nazi policies of systematically destroying national and ethnic groups, including the mass murder of European Jews. He formed the word by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide, from the Latin word for killing. 


[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 
Horrific systematic acts took place in institutions all over Ireland and abroad and it's time we started to actually think in terms of this being a GENOCIDE. Stripping people of their identity, taking every thing they owned including their hair and sexuality, wiping them out through neglect,starvation and abuse then placing them in mass graves is what is termed as GENOCIDE. 

'Eerie and Shocking' Parallels Between Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland and the Duplessis Orphans in Quebec
I'm a Canadian composer currently in Europe conducting research for a new work funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Shortly after arriving in Ireland at the end of February, I was shocked to learn of the case of the Tuam babies – where 796 are believed to be buried in a mass grave, in what once was an abandoned septic system.
My most recent intermedia work, O douce Providence / O Gentle Providence, a stage performance premièred last July at the National Gallery of Canada, has as a focus the witness account of Hervé Bertrand, once an orphan who was abused in a mother and baby home in Canada. When consulted with on the subject, Mr. Bertrand said the similarities to the past care of children in religious run homes in Ireland are ‘eerie and shocking’.
Hervé, 74, was placed in the care of the religious orders in Quebec because his mother was an unmarried teenager. Social workers who later helped him trace his family said his father was Irish and was in the Canadian army at the time. During those years, he said he was raped regularly by a male employee who worked at the orphanage and has suffered considerable trauma throughout his life. He is one of thousands of children known as the “Duplessis Orphans” who were in the care of a number of religious orders in the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Mr. Bertrand said he was ‘shocked’ to read about the case of the Tuam babies where 796 are believed to be buried in a mass grave and wants to travel to Ireland and meet survivors and their families.
Hervé is still ‘reliving the horrors’ of the home and can sympathise with survivors in Ireland. He said: ‘I was shocked to read about the story of Tuam, I can see the similarities, unmarried mothers going into homes and their children disappearing or dying. ‘There is a mass grave in an institution where I was brought to have an operation following a particularly brutal rape and the children who died were taken there to be buried. It had been previously used as a pig’s mud pit.
‘I have so many memories of the three different homes I was placed in. The Gray nuns were a little cruel, less so than the Sisters of Providence who were cruel. We were locked up and treated like patients who were mentally ill when we were not.
‘The nuns and orders treated people so badly, I can relate to what has happened in Tuam’.
The Catholic Church ran a number of mother and baby homes in Quebec, in Canada where some children from there were eventually confined to a psychiatric institution when they got older. The Church and the provincial government of Quebec which was led by a strict Catholic called Maurice Duplessis, made a deal which falsely certified around 5,000 orphaned children as mentally ill and confined the children to psychiatric institutions.
In registrations similar to those in the Tuam mother and baby home, children in Quebec were also classified or registered as “mentally handicapped” while children in Ireland were called “congenital idiots”.
The deal was beneficial for the Church and the hospital because for each child who was committed to the hospital, the nuns received funding. A Commission into the homes in the 1960’s revealed how one third of the 22,000 patients did not belong in the psychiatric institutions.
In 2004 the Duplessis Orphans group asked the Quebec government to exhume the bodies of the orphans in the mass grave in Montreal because no excavation has ever taken place. This remains the case to this day.
The mother and baby homes in Ireland which are now being investigated by a Commission of Inquiry revealed how children were dying at abnormal rates and mass graves are believed to be on the grounds of all mother and baby homes here.
Born on 26 January, 1943 in Montreal, Hervé Bertrand was placed in a mother and baby home (which were known as “crèches”) from the age of 2 days old until he was five. When he was five he was transferred to an orphanage called Côte de Liesse, which was also run by the Gray nuns. He was then transferred to another institution run by the Sisters of Providence that later became a psychiatric institution while he was there.
Hundreds of children died in these institutions. Those victims who survived in mental-health hospitals told horrifying stories of how unspeakable things were done to them when they were young.
While in Ireland, I met with the survivors and attended the various debates in the Dáil regarding the Commission of Inquiry. As the survivors in Ireland and the Duplessis Orphans in Quebec are anxious to meet, a video conference is being planned for the end of May.
Hervé is now looking forward to travelling the world, to tell the world about his story and that of the Duplessis Orphans, as a Canadian and international tour and bringing O douce Providence / O Gentle Providence to Ireland is being planned.
For more information about O douce Providence / O Gentle Providence, please go to: www.ogentleprovidence.com | Facebook: /alyssaryvers | Twitter: @alyssaryvers | Instagram: /alyssaryvers

Smyllum Orphans and the Sisters of Charity

The reports below detail developments following suspicion that up to 100 orphaned children, in the care of the Sisters of Charity who died in circumstances unknown, were buried in unmarked graves in Scotland.  That was 2003. A memorial followed in 2004.  Those whose memories of the former Orphanage, were prevented from seeking redress or providing testimonies due to being statute barred.
A change of heart, in 2017, as survivors are invited to give testimonies to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry headed by Lady Smith, with report expected in 2019.  However it is envisaged no prosecutions will follow as it is thought the abusers are most likely, deceased.

See newspaper articles below:

From the Scotsman Publication dated 2003

SCORES of tiny mounds and indentations punctuate the grass of a forlorn corner of St Mary’s cemetery in Lanark.

They are the evidence of a dark episode in recent Scottish history that saw children who had already been robbed of their lives then robbed of their identities.
It is estimated that the bodies of as many as 100 children lie unmarked and unmourned in St Mary’s - all of them former residents of the town’s notorious Smyllum orphanage.
The Catholic nuns who ran the institution until it shut in the 1980s already stand accused of terrorising the living in their care.
Now it has been revealed how children who died during Smyllum’s century in existence were placed without ceremony in paupers’ graves at nearby St Mary’s and no record kept of their final resting place.
Survivors of the home, many of them still struggling with their own horrific experiences of abuse, are now determined to honour the children who never left.
Update from The Herald in Scotland, 2004.

Their bodies lie unmarked and unmourned in a forgotten corner of St Mary's cemetery in Lanark. They are the orphans of Smyllum - babies and children who died over the course of a hundred painful years and were buried beneath the grass without ceremony, without headstones, and without dignity.
Now, thanks to a year-long campaign by surviving orphans, a fitting memorial is to be erected to the estimated 150 forgotten children.
Until now, only a simple stone cross marked the mass grave of the infants who died at the home. All it said was ''Sweet Jesus have mercy on the souls of the children of Smyllum''.

They died between 1864 and 1964, the year the notorious orphanage closed. In recent months, a group of surviving orphans have alleged that the nuns who ran the home were guilty of unholy cruelty towards their charges.
They demanded that the religious order, the Sisters of Charity, pay for a fitting memorial to the ''lost children''. Campaigner Jim Kane, from Forth in Lanarkshire, yesterday confirmed that the Sisters have finally agreed to foot the bill.
''This brings to a conclusion a very unhappy chapter in the life of Smyllum orphanage,'' he said.
Now aged 62, Mr Kane was resident in the orphanage as a child. He regards the nuns' decision as finally righting a long-standing wrong.
He added: ''We had to drop our original plan to list the names of all 151 children because it was impossible to find all the names.
''So many youngsters passed away during a time of high infant mortality, we didn't want to include only some of the names that we could find.''
He said his campaign group, the In-Care Abuse Society (INCAS), was satisfied that a large impressive stone monument bearing the words of an appropriate prayer will soon stand over the graves. The original stone cross will be relocated to another part of the cemetery.
The new memorial will carry the words: ''Life so short, no world to roam, they were taken so young, they never went home. So, spare a thought for them as you pass this way - a prayer if you remember day by day. Our lives so short in need of love but found in the arms of God above. Jesus said: Suffer little children come unto me.''

The inscription will end with the words: ''Proposed by the Sisters of Charity and INCAS.''
Mr Frank Docherty, 59, from East Kilbride, another Smyllum orphan who claims to have survived two years of beating and humiliation at the home during the 1950s, said: ''This will go some way to easing the pain of surviving former Smyllum orphanage people. It's the least anyone can do for these lost children who never made it in life.''
The nuns of Smyllum, many of whom are buried in graves with proper crosses and headstones in another corner of St Mary's cemetery, interred the babies and children in paupers' graves because they did not have the financial resources to give them decent burials. They kept no records of names and details.
Years later, there are few clues to when the children died, how they died, and whether their deaths were investigated and recorded within the requirements of the law. However, there has been no suggestion that any death was other than natural.
The Smyllum home is now demolished and a housing estate stands in its place.


links

Update Carluke Gazette 2017  - Smyllum Orphanage is an institution listed as one of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry’s current investigations. “The inquiry will cover evidence within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse.

The inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland has confirmed that events at Lanark’s former Smyllum Orphanage will be investigated as part of the probe. And fears that now elderly former residents of the home will be prevented from giving evidence because their allegations are ‘time-barred’ have been swept away. Over the years the Gazette has published harrowing accounts of the treatment of the orphans of the insitution that finally closed 30 years ago. These allegations have ranged from regular bullying by staff to even an alleged cover-up of a murder at the orphanage. However, a few have also come forward to testify that they were treated well and were happy during their time at the orphange, run by the Sisters of Charity Order for a century before being handed over to council control in the ’60s. Now these ageing ‘Smyllum Kids’ are to be invited to tell their stories to the official Scottish Government inquiry into child abuse at 60 Scottish insitutions, ranging from religious order-run orphanages like Smyllum to top private schools such as the ones attended by Tony Blair, Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales. Almost all the allegations of maltreatment at Smyllum which have come to the Gazette’s attention relate to the time when it was still run by the Sisters of Charity. This means that most of the surviving orphans are now in their 60s or older and were alarmed when, intially, it seemed the inquiry would only consider evidence of abuse after the year 1963.

Almost all claims of maltreatment at Smyllum allegedly happened in the years between World War Two and the early ’60s and so many thought they would be ‘gagged’ and their distressing tales never told to the official investigation being conducted by Lady Smith. She and her inquiry team are expected to produce a report in 2019 with recommendations for future action. It is thought that few if any of the alleged Smyllum abusers are still alive and so legal proceedings against individuals resulting from the inquiry are thought unlikely. Confirming all former Smyllum orphans will have their say, a statement from Lady Smith’s inquiry team said this week: “Smyllum Orphanage is an institution listed as one of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry’s current investigations. “The inquiry will cover evidence within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse.