Cookstown Man Arrested Under The Marketing of Potatoes Act (1964)
A Cookstown entrepreneur who was caught in Malaga Airport with a large bag of home-grown potatoes with sunglasses on them in his suitcase is facing up to three years in prison after breaking the Marketing of Potatoes Act (1964) and assaulting a Spanish officer.
The Act, which states that a constable may seize and may detain in custody any potatoes which are being or which are suspected by such an officer or constable of being, sent out of Northern Ireland, hasn’t been used since the great Cappagh Spud Scandal in 1966.
Seamus Sheehey, who admitted to planning to set up a stall on a beach in the south of Spain to sell his 300 potatoes, maintains the heavy-handedness of the Spanish police led him to head-butting one of them and running off, shouting ‘leave my spuds alone yiz bastids’, according to startled onlookers.
“How was I to know about that law? I just remembered how last year I was lying on a beach in Benalmadena and thinking ‘jaysus I’ve love a good spud now’ and the sweat beating off us. I’m sure others felt the same. But there was no need for the Spanish police to start rummaging through my suitcase and throwing my potatoes all over the place, wrecking their sunglasses disguise. It was intimidation.”
Sheehey was already facing community service as well as a ban on being anywhere near a potato field before he headbutted the Spanish officer.
The case brought back memories of the Cappagh Spud Scandal when three Cappagh men were caught at Dun Laoghaire with over 20 tonnes of Tyrone potatoes painted in different colours to resemble large marbles, bound for England.