I suppose this could go in the history section.

Ireland legalises sheep-poo coffee

From: By David Sharrock in Dublin

March 14, 2006

WITH the stroke of a legislative pen, the Irish Republic intends to shrug off centuries of colonial rule when it abolishes thousands of bizarre laws dating back to the first English invasion.

Under a large-scale overhaul of the Irish statutes, only 200 laws will be retained from the period between the Norman invasion of 1100 and 1800, when the British Act of Union abolished the Irish parliament in Dublin after the 1798 rebellion against British rule.

The laws that will go include such gems as the denial of a citizen's right to spike coffee with sheep dung, the burning of witches at the stake and entertaining crowds with tiger fights.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has announced a two-month public consultation period on the plan to dump the pre-independence statutes.

Mr Ahern described the changes as the "single largest body of legislation to be repealed in this way in the history of the Irish state".

"Governments tend to add to the statute book, not take away from it," he said.

"There is a large volume of legislation that predates the foundation of the Irish state, much of which is now redundant and isn't really of any practical use. The ability ... of the public and our legislators, solicitors and barristers to keep abreast of these laws becomes more and more difficult each year, particularly as they are not easily accessible in paper format."
All laws predating the foundation of the Irish state would ultimately be repealed and, where there was a need to retain any statute imposed before Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922, it would be re-enacted in modern form.

Among the archaic laws about to be consigned to history is the Tippling Act of 1735, which prohibits a publican from pursuing a customer for money owed for any drink given on credit.

This law was aimed at stopping landlords from demanding ale money owed to them by servants who resorted to robbing their masters to pay their debts.

Another law - the Adulteration Of Coffee Act 1718 - made it illegal to debase coffee for profit.

Among the substances used by unscrupulous traders to pad out the sacks of coffee was ground-up sheep dung. As coffee went out of fashion, a similar law was introduced covering tea - the Adulteration of Tea Act 1776.

The Statute of Winchester of 1285 is known as the first Police Act. It set up a Corps of Watchmen to arrest suspicious-looking strangers.

Tom Garvin of University College, Dublin, said: "There is a touch of shrugging off the last vestiges of the colonial ruler going on here. The English tried to make the Irish conform to their way of life."