Research by the BBC and the Sunday Post in the UK revealed that at least 400 children from Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark in Scotland are thought to be buried in an unmarked grave at the town’s St Mary’s Cemetery.
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.
It was run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul and was home to more than 10,000 children between opening in 1864 and closing in 1981.
This is the same order which ran the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road in Dublin — the largest such institution in the country.
St Patrick’s has been in the headlines for many years here in relation to the treatment of women and children who went through its doors.
More than 660 infants and children died there between April 1923 and March 1930, according to State inspection reports. A total of 119 out of 240 children in the home in 1925 died. This was attributed to a measles epidemic. A further 111 of 263 children died in 1927.
In 2011, it was revealed that up to 400 dead babies from St Patrick’s and the nearby St Kevin’s Hospital were sent for dissection in Irish universities without the consent of their mothers. In 1942 alone, 57 babies were sent to UCD, 34 to the Royal College of Surgeons and 27 to Trinity College Dublin. Between 1940 and 1965, 35 were sent to UCG.
The mother and baby home was also involved in allowing children to be used in vaccine trials carried out by the pharmaceutical company, the Wellcome Foundation.
The first of these trials took place between December 1960 and November 1961 in four homes, and involved 14 children from the St Patrick’s home.
The purpose of the trial was to look at the response the children would have to a 4-in-1 vaccine — diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and polio.
Responding to the latest revelations in Scotland, the order issued a statement to the Sunday Post where it stated that it is fully co-operating with the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
“We remain of the view that this inquiry is the most appropriate forum for such investigations,” said the statement.
“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.”