The Democratic Programme was one of the three texts presented at the first public sitting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919.
The Democratic Programme was intended to be, and remains, the definitive statement of the aims of the revolutionary movement in the field of social policy. Like the other two “foundational” documents read into the Dáil record during its inaugural meeting, it was intended to express timeless precepts, which would imbue the gathering in particular, and the republican movement more generally, with an enduring allure for the Irish people. Yet, perhaps to a greater extent even than the other two, its precise wording was very much the product of the exigencies of the moment.
That such a document, however its sentiments were expressed, would be included at all in the programme for the inaugural meeting was not guaranteed. Unlike the Declaration of Independence or the Message to the Free Nations, it had the potential to expose disagreements within the movement, most obviously along the lines of social class. This would have been out of place on an occasion when unity was of supreme importance.