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French transport strikes scupper travel plans of Irish fans

A woman argues with riot police officers during a demonstration in Paris. Protesters in Paris threw projectiles at police officers, who responded with tear gas, amid demonstrations by tens of thousands of people opposed to a proposed labour law. Picture by Francois Mori, Associated Press 
John Monaghan

IRISH fans travelling to the next set of games in Euro 2016 - and those returning home - have had their plans seriously disrupted by a series of strikes across France.

Around a dozen flights between Dublin and locations in France and northern Spain were cancelled after French air traffic controllers went on strike, their 50th such action since 2009.

Aer Lingus cancelled eight flights from Dublin Airport, with Ryanair passengers on two flights from Dublin also affected.

Ryanair listed 44 flights over France which it said would be cancelled as a result of the industrial action.

Flights out of Belfast were largely unaffected.

One Northern Ireland fan estimated he would be £1,000 out of pocket after his flight from Dublin to Bordeaux was cancelled.

Stephen Snoddy said: "There's no chance of getting a rescheduled flight because the Republic's playing in Bordeaux at the weekend and flights are massively booked.

"I was looking round this morning to try and get alternative flights and you're talking crazy money, up maybe £900. So I think we're maybe going to be watching it on TV."

Meanwhile, strike action on France's railways has hit some Northern Ireland fans travelling to Lyon for the next Euro 2016 match against Ukraine.

At least one early morning train from Nice was cancelled on Tuesday supporters said, and there have been reports of CGT (General Confederation of Labour) trade unionists staging demonstrations outside the south coast city.

However, some services are running more or less to schedule.

Buses in Nice were not operating on Tuesday because of the strike, part of a wave of industrial action which has convulsed France for days.

John Reynolds (38) a Northern Ireland fan living in Merseyside, said he changed his ticket on Monday after being told the service had been cancelled but arrived for his train anyway to discover it was operating as normal.

The French government is attempting to reform labour laws, including making it easier for employers to lay off workers, reduce overtime pay, increase working hours and reduce the strength of unions.

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