Press Release: Response to Smyllum Park Allegations

Posted by on 9 September, 2017 | 0 comments

Dear Editor,

Readers of the National will doubtless be aware of the highly disturbing allegations of violence and brutality against children who had been placed in the ‘care’ of nuns at Smyllum Park, Lanark. These have recently been augmented by the discovery of a mass grave reputed to contain the remains of up to four hundred children who died at the home during the decades before its closure. The scandal shares many features with the events that which took place at Tuam in the Republic of Ireland- not least the unwillingness of relevant institutions to carry out thorough enquiries into allegations of abuse until decades later, and the struggles of survivors and witnesses to be listened to.

Last week, the Catholic Church in Scotland released a statement in which they asserted that ‘any suggestion that the deaths of some children were caused by anything other than natural causes should be investigated to the fullest extent possible’. To take this statement at face value would be to stretch the bounds of credibility to beyond breaking point. It beggars belief that the Church has not previously carried out their own investigation into the conditions at Smyllum Park and practices there during the several decades between its closure and the present day. It is also quite extraordinary that voices from the Church were not raised during the years when this institution operated about the penal conditions which evidently were prevalent there. While in the past the Catholic Church has been wilfully negligent at best towards some of the most vulnerable people in society- today it appears to suffer from a most convenient amnesia.

While the reaction of the Catholic Church in Scotland to the Smyllum Park scandal is sadly predictable, the public can reasonably expect a far higher standard of response from Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal. However, in a joint statement dated 12thSeptember these bodies announced that; ‘based on the information currently available, there is no evidence to suggest a crime has been committed or that any deaths require to be investigated, although this will be kept under review’. Given that the Church has repeatedly been shown to turn a blind eye to the past abuses within its own organisation, why should the public be led to believe the attitudes of the religious orders and who is to say that their records do not exist?

Yours etc.

Charlie Lynch, Secretary

Scottish Secular Society.

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