Fishermen in Brittany stay on strike

BRETON fishermen stayed on dry land yesterday while colleagues elsewhere returned to work after a week of violent demonstrations ended with the destruction of a historic building in Rennes.

Fishermen in the Channel ports, whose blockades halted ferry traffic on Friday night, returned to work, as did others in Normandy.

In Brittany, however, where the movement against low prices and cheap foreign competition started last week, fishermen awaited a meeting today to decide on further action. They have rejected two government packages of aid announced in the past few days.

An ultimatum to supermarkets to stop selling imported fish ends today, meaning new protests could target stores that do not comply. Some supermarkets were ransacked during the violence last week.

In Rennes, where the 17th- century Parlement de Bretagne, housing the regional appeals court, was still smouldering after it was devastated by fire on Friday night, there was criticism of police methods. The trouble started during a visit to the city by Edouard Balladur, the Prime Minister.

Edmond Herve, Rennes' Socialist mayor and a former health minister, said vandals had run amok 'under the impassive eyes of the forces of order'. Charles Pasqua, the Gaullist Interior Minister, replied by criticising 'the hypocrisy' of some local politicians who had encouraged the demonstration and then lamented its consequences.

The fire at the Parlement de Bretagne was not noticed until midnight. One theory is that it was caused by one of the many distress flares launched by fishermen during their demonstration.

Although the destruction of the building, one of Brittany's most valued historical monuments, was the most spectacular event, it distracted attention from the extreme violence of the demonstration that preceded it. Paving stones and metal objects, such as bolts, were thrown at riot police and some 70 people were hurt.

Officials said there had not been comparable violence in Rennes since the students' and workers' riots of 1968, which brought France to a halt. They criticised police chiefs for concentrating only on the security of the Prime Minister and allowing the protest to get out of hand. The incidents gave Mr Balladur his roughest taste of popular sentiment since he became Prime Minister last March.

Riding high in the opinion polls, he is tipped as the most likely successor to Francois Mitterrand in next year's presidential elections. A poll in this weekend's Le Figaro magazine still had Mr Balladur as the country's favourite politician, although he had dropped two points to 63 per cent.

Results of three parliamentary by-elections due last night were expected to show a swing to the left but, given low turnouts and the massive swing to the right in the general election last March, these could not be considered evidence of a significant disillusionment with the government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Specialist

£21000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an e...

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat