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The "Democratic Programme" of Dáil Éireann

The "Democratic Programme" of DÁil Éireann

21 January 1919

In its original radical form the "Democratic Programme" was the work of the labor leader Thomas Johnson. Even after being toned down by Seán T. O'Kelly, this idealistic document seemed to commit the independent government declared by Dáil Éireann in January 1919 to a social revolution. Though adopted in revised form by the Dáil, it was soon submerged by the more urgent necessities of revolutionary war, and after independence it was essentially forgotten by the bourgeois leaders of the new state.

SEE ALSO Politics: 1800 to 1921—Challenges to the Union; Sinn Féin Movement and Party to 1922

We declare in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be indefeasible, and in the language of our first president, Pádraig Mac Phiarais, we declare that the nation's sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the nation, but to all its material possessions, the nation's soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the nation, and with him we reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.

We declare and we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of government in the willing adhesion of the people.

We affirm the duty of every man and woman to give allegiance and service to the commonwealth, and declare it is the duty of the nation that every citizen shall have opportunity to spend his or her strength and faculties in the service of the people. In return for willing service, we, in the name of the Republic, declare the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the nation's labour.

It shall be the first duty of the government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as citizens of a free and Gaelic Ireland.

The Irish Republic fully realises the necessity of abolishing the present odious, degrading, and foreign poor law system, substituting therefor a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the nation's aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden but rather entitled to the nation's gratitude and consideration. Likewise, it shall be the duty of the Republic to take such measures as will safeguard the health of the people and ensure the physical as well as the moral well-being of the nation.

It shall be our duty to promote the development of the nation's resources, to increase the productivity of its soil, to exploit its mineral deposits, peat bogs, and fisheries, its waterways and harbours in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people.

It shall be the duty of the Republic to adopt all measures necessary for the creation and invigoration of our industries and to ensure their being developed on the most beneficial and progressive co-operative and industrial lines. With the adoption of an extensive Irish consular service, trade with foreign nations shall be revived on terms of mutual advantage and goodwill, and while undertaking the organisation of the nation's trade, import and export, it shall be the duty of the Republic to prevent the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessities until the wants of the Irish people are fully satisfied and the future provided for.

It shall also devolve upon the national government to seek co-operation of the governments of other countries in determining a standard of social and industrial legislation with a view to a general and lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour.

Minutes of the Proceedings of the First Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, 1919–1921, Official Record(n.d.), pp. 22–23.

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