French row after call to stop donations for Notre-Dame restoration

The Heritage Foundation said money should be spent on regenerating all of French culture

TOPSHOT - A picture shows a protective net in the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral during preliminary work one month after it sustained major fire damage on May 15, 2019, in Paris. The April 15, fire destroyed the roof and steeple of the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral. Images of the ancient cathedral going up in flames sparked shock and dismay across the globe as well as in France, where it is considered one of the nation's most beloved landmarks.  / AFP / POOL / Philippe LOPEZ
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One of the four French bodies tasked with collecting donations to restore Notre-Dame has sparked outrage in some circles after announcing it would stop accepting money to rebuild the cathedral.

The state-linked Heritage Foundation said the €218 million it had received was enough. Overall, donors have pledged roughly €1 billion.

Heritage Foundation has instead launched a project called ‘Never Again,’ that seeks to use Notre-Dame’s destruction to draw attention to the wider disrepair of France’s cultural history. It urged potential backers to support this instead.

Hitting back, the Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit said "the greater part” of the donation to rebuild the historic cathedral “have not yet materialised". Only €13.5 million had been received, the Archbishop added.

Notre-Dame suffered extensive damage when a fire broke out inside the building on 15 April 2019. French president Emmanuel Macron has pledged to ensure it is restored as quickly as possible.

Experts still don’t know much the rebuild will cost.

French culture minister Franck Riester said earlier this week :"It is premature to think that we have too much money collected."

Mr Riester visited Notre-Dame with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday. The former said robots were removing gravel from inside the cathedral, to be examined both by ministry experts and police seeking clues about the fire's origin.