The bodies of hundreds of children who died at an orphanage run by nuns are believed to be buried in a mass grave, an investigation by the BBC and Sunday Post has uncovered.
At least 400 children from Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark are thought to be buried in an unmarked grave at the town’s St Mary’s Cemetery, research by the paper and the broadcaster’s File On 4 programme indicates.
The orphanage, run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, was home to more than 10,000 children between opening in 1864 and closing in 1981.
Former First Minister Jack McConnell told the Sunday Post: “It is heartbreaking to discover so many children may have been buried in these unmarked graves.
“After so many years of silence, we must now know the truth of what happened here.”
While First Minister, in 2004, Mr McConnell made a formal apology at Holyrood to victims of care home abuse.
Smyllum Park Orphanage is one of the institutions being examined by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry into historical allegations of the abuse of children in care.
Representatives of The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul gave evidence to the inquiry in June and said they could find no evidence of abuse.
The next phase of the inquiry hearings will start in November with a ‘particular focus’ on Smyllum Park and another home run by the same religious order, Bellevue House in Rutherglen, the inquiry has said.
The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul told the Sunday Post in a statement: “We are core participants in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and are co-operating fully with that inquiry.
“We remain of the view that this inquiry is the most appropriate forum for such investigations.
“Given the ongoing work of the inquiry we do not wish to provide any interviews.
“We wish to again make clear that, as Daughters of Charity, our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care.”