Monday, 12 January 2009

Labour Commemoration of First Dáil

Taken from internal Labour email - if you'd like to attend, please let me know.

This month marks the 90th anniversary of the first sitting of Dail Eireann, which was held in the Mansion House on January 21st 1919.

This is a hugely important date in the evolution of the Irish state, the first meeting of the first democratic parliament of the Irish people, elected by universal suffrage. Yet its anniversary each year receives relatively little attention compared, for instance, to the Easter Rising.

There were no Labour Party TDs in the First Dail. The Party had stood aside in the December 1918 general election, having been told by de Valera that ‘Labour must wait’.

However, the influence of the Labour Party was very much felt at the first meeting of the Dail. There were two documents adopted by the Dail at its first session – a formal declaration of Irish Independence and the Democratic Programme. The author of the Democratic Programme was the then Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Johnson.

The Democratic Programme outlined a set of values for an independent Ireland that are as relevant today as they were in 1919; values that successive governments have often failed to meet. The Programme contained many of the radical and socialist values which were contained in the 1916 Proclamation, which had been drafted by James Connolly.

In order to mark the 90th anniversary of the first sitting of the Dail and the publication of the Democratic Programme and particularly with a view to creating greater public awareness of the Programme, the Labour Party is holding a commemorative event at 2.30pm on Sunday, January 18th, in the Liberty Hall Theatre.

The former TD and General Secretary of the Labour Party, Brendan Halligan, will deliver a commemorative lecture while the Party Leader, Eamon Gilmore TD and the Party President, Michael D. Higgins, will also speak.

We hope that you will be able to attend this important event. A commemorative pamphlet will be available at the lecture.