'It’s a mess again’: Historic Halifax cemetery vandalized

A historic downtown Halifax cemetery could require significant restoration after it was vandalized this week, when dozens of gravestones and crosses were damaged, some beyond repair.

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The 172-year-old Holy Cross Cemetery was the final resting place for many of the city's prominent Irish-Canadians, including former Prime Minister John Thompson.

The local Irish community had been painstakingly restoring the graveyard over the last seven years.

Now, they're still coming to grips with the trail of destruction, which saw dozens of stones toppled and broken.

"I was angry, and you don't achieve much by being angry," said Brian O'Brien, who runs the restoration effort.

O'Brien and his group have spent the better part of a decade restoring the historic cemetery to its former glory, with much of the work being done by hand.

"It was a mess when we started. We had it almost finished, it was looking much better, and now it's a mess again," he said.

"There's over two years of manual work to be done to restore it, and some of the stones are damaged to a point where they're non-repairable, and they're over a 100 years old."

Holy Cross Trust Restoration Group trustee Michael Nee was the first to spot the destruction Tuesday morning. He said that the "hardest part" is going to be dealing with the damage done to the crosses.

Police say there are no suspects so far.

"It is a significant amount of damage and it's disrespectful," said Const. Diane Woodworth of Halifax Regional Police.

"It's a cemetery, so these are peoples' loved ones, and it's something to be taken very seriously."

An insurance adjuster on the scene Wednesday said much of the damage should be covered.

Despite the destruction, Halifax's Irish community remains upbeat.

"There's hope, and the hope is that we come together again in the spring, and we restore all the damage that has been done," said Nee.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko


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