THE second phase of the Scottish child abuse inquiry will further investigate controversial children’s homes run by a Catholic Order of nuns.
It is examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in care and has been taking statements from witnesses since last spring.
Officials said the first part of the second phase starting in autumn will focus on homes run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, such as Smyllum Park in Lanark and Bellevue House in Rutherglen.
The head of the religious order which ran the controversial children’s homes has already described allegations of abuse as a “mystery”.
Sister Ellen Flynn, leader of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Great Britain, told the inquiry her congregation could find “no evidence” of abuse taking place at Smyllum Park.
The inquiry, led by Lady Smith, heard more than 4,000 children passed through the home between 1930 and its closure in 1981.
Former residents have alleged the sisters administered severe beatings at Smyllum, where the bodies of up to 100 orphans lie in an unmarked grave.
The inquiry earlier heard how neither the sisters nor lay staff at the school had qualifications for looking after children until they began to undertake childcare courses in the late 1960s.
As well as a small group of nuns, the school employed between 30 to 35 people as childcare workers, nurses, laundry workers and handymen, all of whom could access the children unaccompanied.
The inquiry also heard that in the early part of the century it had been “common practice” to separate siblings.
While the inquiry heard that “some very good archival evidence” exists in relation to Smyllum, it was told there are no records of punishments which were handed out.
Yesterday it was revealed that Phase 2 hearings will start on November 28 and applications are being sought to give evidence into the two Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul homes.
A spokesman for the inquiry said: “The deadline for leave to appear in relation to the first case study is September 4. Applicants must show that they have a direct or substantial interest in the scope and purpose of the hearings.
“The evidence given at the hearings will supplement written statements taken from witnesses in advance and documents recovered by the inquiry team during investigations.”
Public hearings began in Edinburgh in May and a series of religious organisations has admitted children were abused in their care and issued apologies, including the Catholic Church in Scotland. The hearings have heard a catalogue of damning testimony about the loss or destruction of vital records kept by institutions accused of presiding over abusive regimes.
Legislation lifting the time-limit on damages for child abuse cases was passed by the Scottish parliament earlier this year.The Bill removes the current three-year limitation period for personal injury actions in cases of child abuse where the person was under 18 at the time.
It will apply to all cases of child abuse after September 1964 – but campaigners are still lobbying for justice for those who were abused before then.
Religious orders are also facing demands for redress for victims. During the inquiry, the Catholic Church said it was considering cash compensation for survivors. The cost may be at least £200million.
In early 2018, the inquiry will examine homes run by Sisters of Nazareth, investigating Nazareth House sites in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Kilmarnock and Lasswade.