On this day in history : 6th July 1978 – Three bags of horse manure are thrown from the Public Gallery of the House of Commons during a Scottish devolution debate….

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Image from YouTube

It was during points of order; Labour MP Tam Dalyell was on his feet speaking about the Scottish education system when he was pelted with manure…. Dalyell was determined to carry on with his speech regardless….much to the approval of his colleagues…. One MP remarked that he could not sit down ‘because the Bench has been soiled by some offensive matter that has just been thrown from the Public Gallery’….The sitting was suspended for twenty minutes whilst a clean-up operation took place….

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Tam Dalyell – Open Media Ltd CC BY-SA 3.0

A number of protesters, including 26-year-old Yana Mintoff, daughter of the Maltese prime minister, had smuggled in the bags of manure hidden under their clothing…. The doorman later said he thought there had been a funny smell but assumed the group just needed a wash…. Yana Mintoff and fellow protester John McSherry were arrested and later fined….

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Yana Mintoff Bland (right) in more recent times, receiving a biography about her father, Dom Mintoff – Josgre CC BY-SA 3.0

At the time Dalyell remarked the protest was about Malta rather than Scottish education and said he didn’t take it personally…. In reality it was actually a protest against the presence of British troops in Northern Ireland…. Yana said she had thrown the manure as a protest in support of political prisoners in Ireland…. For her it was about human rights – she believed prisoners were being subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in the prisons of Northern Ireland….

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Image credit : Adam Tinworth via Flickr

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