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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Front End Developer

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...

Guru Careers: Customer Support Advisor

Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food