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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

When the Breton Parliament burned - 20 years ago

Twenty years ago the fishermen of Brittany were in dispute - protests, marches, port blockades and endless meetings were all eventually eclipsed when the Breton Parliament buildings were raised to the ground in a huge fire. The mayor of Renne, commenting on the fishermens' actions was moved to say, "I think the boys have gone a bit too far this time"



It was the night of 4 to 5 February 1994, after a day of clashes between fishermen and enforcement, Rennes attend unbelievers, dumbfounded, at the burning of the Parliament of Brittany. The building, symbol of the city and jewel of Breton heritage is devoured by the flames.


The night of the burning of the Parliament of Brittany  Archives Ouest-France
This Friday, February 4, 1994, Edouard Balladur, the then Prime Minister, to sign the contract for Rennes Plan State Region. Fishermen themselves are there also to be heard. There are thousands to shout their anger and dismay. For months, fish prices are at their lowest.
In the streets of Rennes, fishermen are more than 5000 and clashes with police violence are rare. Hundreds of flares are initiated by the protesters, the police retort to tear gas.

180 firefighters deployed

By late afternoon, calm has returned, fishermen have left the capital of Brittany. But at 0:30, firemen are called " Parliament is on fire! "
A total of 180 firefighters were deployed there to overcome the disaster.To water the fire, the water is drawn from the Vilaine. In shock, hundreds of Rennais massed on Parliament Square. They have no voice, sometimes in tears.
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The story of the night of 4 to 5 February 1994 with sound archives  Céline Guetaz (01'45'') 
Sound Archives INA
Mayor of Rennes, Edmond Hervé, and the Minister of Justice, Pierre Méhaignerie also attend the " catastrophe ". 
Edmond Hervé  Archives Ouest-France
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Back to the event with Edmond Hervé   (01'20'')
In 1994, Béatrice Perrot is 26 years old. Daughter of one of the caretakers of Parliament, she visits her mother that on February 4. She lived a day of very high voltage before being awakened at night. Then there is thick smoke in the corridors of Parliament where she will guide the first firefighters.
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The testimony of the daughter of the concierge   (01'45'')
"It was raining embers 150 meters"
Lieutenant Colonel Hervé Rival is a firefighter, he is now retired. There are 20, 4 February 1994, he was on duty. Called in the night to take command of the mobile station at the foot of parliament, he said that day and that night the fight against the flames.
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The testimony of a firefighter   (01'00'')

The fire investigation was launched the same day. A lengthy investigation, which ultimately led to a general non-place, but it has fueled many fantasies.
Judge Van Ruymbeke (file photo)  MAXPPP / Thomas Padilla
The office of Judge Van Ruymbeke was destroyed by fire. The judge investigating the affairs of secret funding of political party. 


Story courtesy of France Bleu: