By Marcus John McCabe
Leader of the Santo Daime Church Céu dos Santos in Ireland
Early in 2001 I attend a Santo Daime ceremony in Northern Ireland, which changed my life. To make a long story short, I got progressively involved and, by 2006, with support coming from Brazil, Wales and Holland the Irish group became a regular Santo Daime church following a full calendar of ceremonies being conducted in Clones, Dublin/Wicklow, and the West of Ireland by me and a circle of committed ‘fardados’ (Santo Daime members). It was a rich period of spiritual learning, and joy.
On the 15th of March 2006 I was arrested at my home in Burdautien, Clones Co. Monaghan, Ireland, while the congregation were arriving for a Santo Daime ceremony. A new and unpleasant chapter followed.
On the 29th of March 2007, in Monaghan district court judge Sean Mc Bride convicted me on two charges. Charge 1: unlawful possession of DMT in contravention of Section 3 of Misuse of Drugs Act of 1977 and Charge 2 selling and otherwise supplying DMT in contravention of section 15 and section 27 of the Misuse of Drugs act 1977. After special full day hearing of Monaghan District Court he gave me the following sentence: €5000 fine; 3 months jail sentence; destruction of the sacrament; binding to the peace (see here).
However due to the fact that the Sentence was too severe in that it exceeded the maximum allowable fine imposable by a District Court we appealed the sentence to The High Court for Judicial review. This sentence was quashed on judicial review in the High Court on the 15th of October 2007 and sent back to the local district for re-sentence.
During the re-sentence from the Higher Court on the 15th of March 2008 Judge Mc Bride gave a much more lenient sentence of €300 fine on Charge 2 (supplying) while Charge 1 (possession) was quashed (see here and here).
The fine was paid and a 7-day jail sentence on default of payment did not apply. I was not bound to the peace nor was an order given to destroy the sacrament. In particular the judge noted that a constitutional case had been initiated and with the agreement of the Garda he postponed any destruction of the sacrament until after the constitutional case had been ruled upon by the High Court.
So even if I got a much more lenient sentence – ironically by the same judge – I was still convicted.
During the period while I was waiting to be re-sentenced I had taken a separate case against the Minister for Justice and the Government of Ireland for the violation of my constitutional right to practice my faith. We insist that we have the right to practice our religion. Article 44 of the Irish Constitution BUNREACHT NA hÉIREAN clearly states the following rights: “Religion
1. The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honor religion.
2. 1° Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality,
guaranteed to every citizen.”
During the last six years my reputation was damaged by sensationalist headlines and defamatory articles in the press, and my personal life and finances incredibly disrupted. Our Constitutional case: Marcus Mc Cabe & The Members of The Santo Daime Church in Ireland (Plaintiffs) Vs The Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, Ireland & the Attorney General (Defendants), will hopefully come before the High Court this year which will bring some finality to it.
We await for justice.
References to the cases in the media:
To contact Marcus John McCabe: firstname.lastname@example.org