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MILITARY

France orders probe into ‘unsafe’ nuclear base

The French government ordered an inquiry into a nuclear submarine base off the coast of Brittany on Tuesday, after a local newspaper revealed shocking gaps in security, which could easily be targeted by terrorists.

France orders probe into 'unsafe' nuclear base
France on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the Ile Longue nuclear submarine base in Brittany. A local newspaper report uncovered glaring gaps in security. Photo: François Mori/AFP

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has ordered an immediate review of the ground, maritime and aerial security of the base on Ile Longue, an island off the Britanny coast, officials said.

The move follows a report in the regional daily Telegramme de Brest detailing a string of shortcomings in security at the base.

According to the newspaper, it can be accessed by anyone who has an easy-to-copy identity badge and there is no system of biometric identification of staff via their irises or finger prints.

For vehicles, a simple piece of paper with a few basic details is sufficient to get past checkpoints and, as a result of ongoing upgrading work, trucks entering the site have not been subject to systematic checks.

The paper also noted that a large number of the 115 military police deployed to protect the site were part-time volunteers, many of whom were young, inexperienced and poorly paid.

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BRITTANY

French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region

The French city of Nantes is to hold a referendum on exiting the Pays-de-la-Loire region and becoming part of Brittany instead.

French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region
Photo: AFP

On Friday the town council of Nantes voted in favour of requesting the French government organise a referendum so local people can have their say about whether they wish to remain in the Pays-de-la-Loire region or become part of Brittany – a region that many say the town has more historic and cultural connections to.

The vote on Friday was carried by 56 votes and concerns whether the département of Loire-Atlantique – which contains Nantes – should move regions.

READ ALSO The 20 essential maps you need to understand Brittany

 

The vote follows a petition in 2018 which gathered 105,000 signatures.

Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland said: “This strong citizen mobilisation cannot be ignored. It reflects the aspiration of our fellow citizens to be consulted to a greater extent, in a context of essential revitalisation of our democracy.”

The desire of people in the Loire-Atlantique to become Breton isn't new.
 
The départment was part of Brittany until World War II, when it was separated and made part of the neighbouring region by the Vichy government. That region eventually became the Pays-de-la-Loire in 1955.
 
The issue has been simmering since then and pro-Breton voices have become louder in recent years as they hope to take advantage of a law that allows départments to chose which region they belong to via a referendum.
 
The town, which is the historic seat of the Dukes of Brittany, also declared its intention to  “set up a permanent pluralist body to engage in a genuine consultation with the State on the organisation of this referendum, organise an in-depth debate on the issues and consequences of a redistribution in order to feed the citizen debate, and formulate proposals to strengthen cooperation between Nantes and the other Breton territories”. 
 
However the referendum will have to be approved by both the national government and the regional authorities.
 

France's regions were reorganised in 2016 and several were merged to create the current 13 regions of mainland France.

Brittany currently covers four départements – Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère and Morbihan – while Pays-de-la-Loire covers Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée. Nantes is currently the largest town in the region.

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