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Macron calls for national unity, rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral in 5 years

Macron calls for national unity, rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral in 5 years
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral within five years after the devastating fire which ravaged the building on Monday and said the “catastrophe” should be turned into a moment of unity.

Speaking directly to French citizens in a televised address, Macron said the fire which completely destroyed the steeple and large sections of the church’s roof, was a “traumatic experience” not only for France, but for the whole world.

“We will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral — and we will make it even more beautiful than before,” he said.

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The president started his short address praising the work of fire brigades who were battling the blaze.

Macron was due to give a speech about the ongoing Yellow Vest protest movement on Monday, but decided to postpone it as news of the seriousness of the fire emerged. During his short speech on Tuesday, Macron said it was “not the right time” to talk about politics and that such things could be revisited later. 

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Macron said that the fire had caused everyone in France and around the world to come together and play their role. “The foreigners wept, the journalists wrote their articles, the writers dreamed, the photographers showed us what was happening,” he said.

France has seen wars and revolutions that destroyed its towns, cities, ports and churches, he said, but “every time, we rebuilt them.”

Macron’s five-year plan for rebuilding the iconic Gothic cathedral is on the optimistic end of the scale, as some experts have suggested renovations could take at least ten years.

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Donations to rebuild efforts have been pouring in in the aftermath of the fire, with French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault pledging €100 million and fellow billionaire Bernard Arnault offering €200 million. More than €600 million in total has already been pledged to the effort within 24 hours.

Preliminary investigations into the fire have found no evidence that it was a case of arson and Paris' city prosecutor said officials are "favoring the theory of an accident."

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