• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French mayor threatens suicide over travellers

Dan MacGuill · 7 Aug 2013, 10:06

Published: 07 Aug 2013 10:06 GMT+02:00

Paul Renaudat, mayor of the village of Chavannes, in the central department of Cher, told local police and a radio station he would kill himself if a group of 35 or so traveller families didn’t leave the area.

“I would go that far…It wouldn’t bother me, and my family has been informed,” Renaudat reportedly told local paper The Berry Republicain.

Despite the fact that the 50 or so caravans in question had left the village of Chavannes, Renaudat reiterated his ultimatum to French daily Le Parisien on Tuesday saying he would sacrifice himself for the good of France.

"The next caravan that turns up on communal land, I will disappear," he said ."There have been others who made sacrifices so the Republic could move forward and I am ready to do the same."

The exasperated Renaudat justified his extreme stance by saying he had a "moral contract" with his constituents that he would "defend tooth and nail".

According to Le Berry Republicain, the origin of the mayor's pledge centres around the continued presence of the travellers in a local stadium, and the strong criticism Renaudat had received from some of the village’s 200 or so residents.

After making the threat last Monday, local police visited the under-pressure Renaudat at his home and found him in good health.

He was brought to a local hospital by his family for a check-up, and law enforcement confiscated his hunting rifles.

“I didn’t give any parking permit [to the traveller families], and I was forced to put up with their presence for a week, “said Renaudat.

“So I felt I had failed in my mission as mayor, and that’s why I wanted to end my life,” he added.

Anti-racism campaigners have been quick to condemn Renaudat's threats as a ploy, however. "This guy is absolutely crazy," Bernadete Hétier, co-president of the anti-racism group MRAP told The Local.

"What he's trying to do is exert pressure for a completely undeserving cause, and we should not be sensitive to such pressure. This is completely unacceptable," she added.

For his part, however, Renaudat has denied he holds anti-traveller or racist views, and is acting only for the good of local residents.

"I have nothing against these people [travellers]," he told Le Parisien. "What I want is for them to also respect residents. Each person's freedom extends to the point where someone else's begins," he concluded.

Renaudat’s suicide threat is only the latest in a series of recent controversies surrounding the traveller and Roma communities in France.

Last month, The Local reported how centrist French deputy Gilles Bourdouleix was forced to resign from his party after allegedly suggesting “maybe Hitler didn’t kill enough gypsies.”

Bourdouleix was said to have made the comments under his breath during a meeting with travellers at a camp in the western town of Cholet, where he is mayor.

Story continues below…

Earlier in the summer, the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) announced it would be suing Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front, for incitement to racial hatred.

The 85-year-old right-wing firebrand made comments in Nice on July 4th where he labelled the local Roma community a “smelly” and “rash-inducing” presence in the southern city.

The following day, the city’s mayor and centre-right UMP deputy Christian Estrosi also caused outrage by labelling the Roma community “criminals” and proposing tougher measures for dealing with them, including installing video surveillance in Roma and traveller camps.

For her part, Hétier sees this recent spate of controversial statements as part of a cynical drive for votes by politicians, especially those on the Right concerned by the rise of the far-right National Front.

"We will have local elections next year in France, and you can rest assured that these people who engage in this kind of unacceptable talk will try to use it to get elected or re-elected," she said.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
€5 to the coast? Ouibus rolls out new summer lines
Photo: Ouibus

Fancy heading to the coast for just €5 this summer?

Brexit
When France 'ignored' the result of an EU referendum
Demonstrators hold signs reading 'Respect our No, an other Europe is possible' after the EU constitution which was rejected in a referendum in 2005. Photo: AFP

The UK has voted to Leave the EU... but can the Brexit vote simply be ignored? Here's what happened in France's own EU referendum 11 years ago.

Tensions mount as thousands protest France's labour laws
French anti-riot police officers hold a man during a demonstration against controversial labour reforms, on June 28, 2016 on Bastille Square in Paris. Photo: AFP

Police are on high alert as tensions have begun to service during the latest labour reform protest in Paris.

The bright side of Brexit: The 'good news' for Brits in France
Photo: AFP

Well the UK voted to Leave the EU, the pound is tumbling, and stock markets have been in turmoil, but it's not all bad news for Brits living and working in France... right?

New map of France finalized as regions settle on names
Photo: AFP

It's done. The names have all been decided on after lots of arguing. Here's the new map of France.

Eiffel Tower closes as workers join latest strike
Photo: AFP

The Iron Lady is on strike on Tuesday.

Labour law protests
Paris: 2,500 police on alert for new labour law protest
Police carry out bag checks at Thursday's protest. Photo: AFP

Paris is on high alert on Tuesday as the city is set to play host to the 11th demonstration against new labour reform bill, which will be voted on by the Senate on the same day.

French police lifeguards get guns for summer beach patrol
Photo: AFP

Keep an eye out for life guards with guns on beaches in France this summer.

What will change in France from July 2016
Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

July will see some changes in France, and here's how you'll be affected.

France tells UK to hurry up and get on with EU divorce
Photo: AFP

"Don't waste any time," France tells UK. "We don't want anymore uncertainty."

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,736
jobs available