• France edition
 
French mayor threatens suicide over travellers
File photo: AnemoneProductions/Flickr

French mayor threatens suicide over travellers

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

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
France 'determined' to drive economic reforms
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with President Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

France 'determined' to drive economic reforms

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday said Paris was "absolutely determined" to drive economic reforms and that France was not "Europe's sick man". READ  

US: France can do more to fight Ebola
US Ambassador Samantha Power. Photo: AFP

US: France can do more to fight Ebola

Returning from a trip to inspect efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa, US Ambassador Samantha Power said France, Canada and Belgium could do more to help fellow French-speakers in Guinea. READ  

Presented by Home Exchange
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange

Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange

Swap your home, save a fortune, and have a great time in the process. The Local finds why thousands of people from around the world have embraced the Home Exchange phenomenon. READ  

QUIZ: Find out how French you've become
So how French do you think you are? Photo: Frenchman: Shutterstock

QUIZ: Find out how French you've become

It's impossible to be an expat in France without turning a little bit French. Take our quiz and find out where you land on the Frenchiness scale. READ  

French try to make surly shopkeepers kinder
Tired of bad customer service in France? Photo: Smiling worker: Shutterstock

French try to make surly shopkeepers kinder

Many Anglos have a dim view of customer service in France, but the French aren't happy either with how some shopkeepers treat them. Now a growing programme is labeling shopkeepers who you can expect to be friendly. READ  

Broadcasts cut as fire ravages French radio HQ
A massive fire cut broadcasting for many of France's public radio stations. Photo: France Bleu

Broadcasts cut as fire ravages French radio HQ

A massive fire ripped through the Paris building that houses studios for some of France's public radio stations, prompted broadcasts to be abruptly cut off. It's unclear what sparked the blaze. READ  

Metro and Train strike set for Tuesday in France
A train and metro strike is set for Tuesday in France. Photo: AFP

Metro and Train strike set for Tuesday in France

Commuters should brace themselves for travel chaos next week, with a train and Metro strike set for Tuesday, according to AFP. But it's not clear yet how big of an industrial action it's going to be. READ  

France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl
The teenager was told last week that she must pay back €10,000 in just 15 days. Euros: Shutterstock

France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl

A 13-year-old girl in western France has been told she must pay back the €10,000 that was given to her by the state after her sailor father was killed in an accident. READ  

National Front pulls in 'record membership'
The National Front party has a total of 83,000 members – the highest number in the history of the party. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

National Front pulls in 'record membership'

After a year of unprecedented electoral success, Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front party is attracting more members than ever before in the 42-year-old party’s history, French media has reported. READ  

Merah-inspired jihadists 'plot attacks in France'
Both men had been motivated by the actions of Mohamed Merah, a French-Algerian national killed by French police in March 2012 after murdering seven people. Photo: AFP

Merah-inspired jihadists 'plot attacks in France'

Morocco said on Thursday it has arrested two jihadists inspired by French terrorist Mohamed Merah who were planning to attack banks and multinational companies in France and in the North African country. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Travel and have a great time with Home Exchange
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
National
Eight Halloween events not to miss in Paris
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se