with Madeleine McMullin

Ukrainian 2 year old & family in immigration detention centre

CIMADE (Organisation for Active Support of Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers) is fighting the case of a Ukrainian family who arrived in the P-O at the end of last year from Spain and claimed asylum. They were initially refused asylum on the grounds that they had arrived in Spain and should have registered there. The authorities here applied to the Spanish authorities for leave to deport them back there.  They did not receive a reply within the 6 months stipulated by the Dublin treaty so France became the relevant country for the asylum claim as the country of residence. They were put under house arrest by the Prefecture on 23rd March, the last day of the 6 months. The Prefecture continued to deny them residence, despite several rulings by the Administrative Court in Montpellier, all of which pointed to the cancellation of the family’s deportation. Then last Wednesday, 27th July, they were called to the PAF (Border Police) where they were arrested, the husband handcuffed and the wife forced into a car. The police went and collected their affairs but left behind the toddler’s medicine. They were then taken to Toulouse where the police tried to put them on a plane to Madrid. The family refused and the pilot would not let the police use force to get them on board, so police had to take them back to a detention centre. The representative of CIMADE said that there were doing everything they could to fight the family’s case. He added that he was very angry about the decision to lock them up, especially as France had already been censured by the European Court of Human Rights for locking families with children in detention centres.

Bull fighting removed from the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The State Council rejected the appeal by two pro-bull fighting societies which were contesting the decision by the Administrative Court in Paris to remove bull fighting from the list of France’s intangible cultural heritage. The two societies had got the practice on to the list in 2011 but this was rejected in 2015. They will now have to pay €3000 to CRAC Europe (Radically Anti-Corrida Committee, a society opposing bull fighting).
The list includes 300 practices including falconry, “compagnonnage”, Alençon lacemaking and Maloya (traditional music of Réunion).

Woman saved by cat

Somebody set fire to a mobile home in the garden of a house in the hamlet of Palol near Céret where the 21 year old daughter of the owner was asleep. The mother, asleep in the main house woke to the sound of shouting, helped her daughter douse the flames and then rang the police, who found an empty petrol can nearby and the traces of a 4×4 on the ground adjacent. The daughter had been woken by her cat who had jumped on her. She could not explain who might have wanted her dead.

Travellers accused of dumping and littering in vineyards

There have been a lot of complaints recently about fly tipping in villages, but in Corneilla le Vercol, one viticulteur is experiencing huge problems with tipping in his olive groves and his vines. He blames the travellers who camp illegally on neighbouring land also meant for agriculture.  According to him they go from house to house offering to cut down and dispose of sick palm trees which they then bring back and dump in his fields and orchards. They also use the vines as their lavatory and as a place to dispose of any rubbish. The farmer complained that nobody was listening to him and the other farmers also suffering. He added that he had even had 50 olive trees stolen the year before. The president of the wine growers union denounced what he called a growing curse which was costing farmers more and more dearly and called on the prefect to take note.

Opposition to Occitanie

For once the Conseil Général had voted unanimously for something. They all agreed to stand firm against the name for the new region and to take the fight to the Council of State if necessary. They’ve been joined in the fight by a group of Occitans who do not want the Occitan identity for which they’ve fought for recognition to become subsumed by the region when the new region only covers 36% of the territory and only 35% of the  Occitan population. They are calling for mass demonstrations in Occitan towns which are not included in the territory such as Pau, Bordeaux, Marseilles etc.
“Oui au pays Catalan” also held a demonstration on the 31st to continue to highlight its opposition to the new name, which is ultimately in the hands of the Prime Minister once the Council of State has made its recommendation. They were particularly angered by the appearance in the weekend’s issue of Figaro Magazine of an article entitled “La Belle Occitane” which was a review of Port Vendres.

Young man dies cliff diving

Two young men appear to have been trying to dive from the cliffs at Cap Cerbère on 27th July when one of them fell on to the rocks on his back and then into the sea. His body was found by the rescue services and divers.

Overcrowded flat in Thuir

Officers from the Animal Cruelty Section of the Rivesaltes animal rescue association “Une gite, une gamelle” were called out on a tip off to a block of flats in Thuir where they found excrement in the lifts and an awful stink in the stairwells. Inside the 2 room flat they found 2 adults, a 5 year old child, no less than 7 dogs and 37 cats. The flat was filthy and the humans and animals suffering. The child was sent to live with his father in Hérault. The animals are still in the flat at the moment because the animal shelter did not physically have the room to take them in. They are launching an appeal to people and other shelters to take them in, whether permanently or temporarily. The couple will not be prosecuted as they had not intended cruelty but had just been overwhelmed, but the shelter will ask for a ruling that they not be allowed to keep animals again. Please ring 06 08 51 15 02 if you are interested in taking in one of the animals.

Collioure fireworks cancelled

80,000 spectators were expected for this year’s fireworks display on 16th August in Collioure but the authorities have decided to cancel it in view of what happened in Nice. The rest of the festivities will still go ahead.

Man shot dead in Bompas

A investigation is underway to try to work out the cause and exact circumstances of a deadly argument in which one man ended up dead and another seriously wounded, both from gun shots. The second man was still in hospital the day after the incident but not in danger of his life. According to sources of the Independant newspaper, the fight was over a love conflict.

40 hectares up in smoke in Tautavel

A fire broke out on the afternoon of Monday 1st August, threatening houses in Tautavel. The firefighters left 5 engines and officers in place to watch in case it reignited.

No increase in sales or requests for weapons permits in the P-O

Contrary to rumours that are doing the rounds on social media, there has been no increase in sales of either hunting rifles or competition hand guns in the department. In any case, the rules are  strict, and vetting has been tightened recently. If you want to buy a hunting gun you have to have a valid hunting permit or a clay pigeon licence. To own a handgun you have to have belonged to a shooting club for more than 6 months, gone to at least 3 shooting sessions in that time, and are unlikely to be granted a licence to own a gun unless you are taking part in competitions. A specialist commented that it is thought that around 10% of people have a weapon at home, whether that is a hunting knife, a gun that fires blanks, a telescopic truncheon or something else. However most people have them to make them feel safe not to use them.

Revolution in pool management

A start up is about to be launched which should cause a revolution in pool management. Flippr is the brainchild of 3 young people who thought it up at “start-up weekend 2015” in Perpignan. It sends a signal to swimming pool owners’ smart phones if the level of chlorine is too high or the the pH is too acidic. It should see an end to having to empty the pool because the water has turned green. The idea was supported by the ADE (Perpignan Metropole Economic Development Agency and by the Plein Sud nursery company owned by the Conseil Général, but it was given wings by the “connected camp” of the IOT Valley near Toulouse. Flippr was one of only 9 French start ups to benefit from the help of Sigfox, a high flying national company that specialises in the internet of things, thus giving the fledgling company the chance to benefit from the best technical and marketing help. The new company is already being closely followed by two national brands of swimming pool products and large retailers are also on the case. The next step is the launch of a fund raising campaign on cloud sourcing platform Wiseed. The aim is to raise €250,000 to get the project going. They have already received promises of €100,000 even before the official launch sometime in August.

2 year old’s death being investigated

A 2 year old girl from Trouillas was rushed to hospital on the night of Monday 1st August, but died after she was transferred to Montpellier. Her mother, currently pregnant with her 5th child, raised the alarm saying that she had slipped in the shower. The mother is also in hospital and cannot yet be interviewed by investigators who are looking into the possibility of child cruelty due to suspicious marks on the little girl’s body.

Madeleine McMullin lives in Palalda from where she runs her marketing business Marketing66.  She has worked both in the UK and abroad, with big brand names in the interiors and design industries such as Wedgwood, Denby, Sebastian Conran, Laura Ashley, Hemingway Design……..

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