BY LAURENT BEAULIEU
The past week or so there have been much written and said concerning the restoration of the Irish Settlers Monument that sits behind the P.E.I. Regiment building in Charlottetown. The monument faces the entrance to Charlottetown Harbour and is seen by every ship that comes into the Harbour.
It has been apparent for some time that the monument has been neglected and was in danger of becoming derelict. Why this monument dedicated to all Irish people who came to settle in P.E.I. in the 18th and 19th century should be allowed to fall to such a state is puzzling.
At night there is no illumination and no form of security in the area and it can be easily reached by going through the parking lot of the P.E.I. Regiment. It has been reported that someone drove a heavy vehicle over the monument, cracking and displacing many of the 32 stones, each one brought from and representing a county of Ireland.
It has also come to light that the monument has been vandalized on at least two previous occasions but that it has warranted little attention from city authorities.
The damage done by vandals is so great that now the city is extensively repairing the monuments and redoing the landscaping around it. However the city has decided to do it on the cheap with stone from Quebec, because restoring the stonework would cost too much.
In other words, a memorial to the Irish who came and settled in P.E.I. and contributed to the prosperity of this Island is not worth restoring properly, according to the City of Charlottetown, and will have to settle for budget renovations.
This approach is extremely disrespectful to the entire Irish community, which is important not only by its size, but by the contribution it has made to P.E.I. in over 250 years.
Where are city council, the mayor and councillors when direction is needed in setting the proper tone for this type of restoration? I believe many wish to hear from the mayor and the councillors on what they will do to properly restore this monument to its original condition with stones from Ireland and also install proper security to ensure that vandals do not repeat their mischief.
- Laurent Beaulieu is a resident of Ward 1 in the City of Charlottetown and a former diplomat in the Canadian Foreign Service.