Objects and Rules of the Irish Democratic Association (1850)

(Reprinted in The Irishman, 12 Jan 1850, and reproduced in Rachel O’Higgins, ‘Ireland and Chartism: A study of the influence of Irishmen and the Irish Question on the Chartist Movement.’ Thesis: TCD, 1959, appendix iv)


1st. The elevation of the character and condition of the working classes, so that our artisans may understand their true value; and the tiller of this soil, on whom all are dependent, his just and indefeasible claim to live happily on the land he has made productive by the sweat of his brow.

2nd. To inculcate the necessity of every Irishman encouraging native manufacture, and to lay down a plan for the revival of Irish trade.

3rd. Convinced from past experiences that the right and interests of the people have been totally neglected by our representatives, we deem it an imperative duty to train the democracy of this country into a full and complete knowledge of their power, the position they occupy, and the position they are entitled to occupy; and to impress upon them the necessity of untiring exertion for the complete and entire restoration of those social and political privileges they have been unjustly deprived of.

4th. That in consequence of the great discouragement given to Irish genius in arts and sciences, the development of Irish talent, and the diffusion of a national literature, will be a primary object of this association.

5th. To secure the earnest and powerful co-operation of all other existing democratic institutions, whose aims and intentions may be identical with those of this association – namely, the recognition and just appreciation of the rights of labour, and the overthrow of a heartless and useless oligarchy.

6th. The union of the democracy of every creed – to do which we deem it of vital importance to protect every denomination of Christian worship – to respect every man for his conscientious opinions, and the free expression of the faith that is within him; and owing to the enmity hitherto subsisting between the Catholic and Protestant democracies of Ireland, which has been engendered and encouraged by our rulers, for the maintenance of English dominion in this country, it will be the particular object of this association to encourage and establish a good feeling between, and to hold out the right hand of fellowship to the Protestant democracy of Ireland; and as this association will labour to break down the barriers of religious prejudice – to uproot sectarian animosity, and scout and overthrow all ascendancy of creed – it will ask for co-operation of every Irish-born man in establishing the independence of his native land.

7th. Fully sympathising with the sufferings of our Irish martyrs, we deem it of importance to hold them in grateful remembrance so long as they are expatriated under British law.


1st. That the society be styled “The Irish Democratic Association”.

2nd. That the business of this association shall be conducted by a general committee, with power to make bye-laws, consisting of twenty-one members (exclusive of Treasurer and Secretary), five to form a quorum, to be chosen by ballot at a public meeting of the members, which committee shall hold office for three months, at the end of which time ten of the above will retire, to be replaced by ballot.

3rd. The association shall be open to men of sterling and manly democratic principles; the proposer and seconder of each new member must pledge themselves for his integrity, resolution, and devotion to fatherland.

4th. No person shall be admitted a member of the association, save by a vote of a weekly meeting, and no member can be expelled therefrom save by a similar vote, taken on the proposition of the general committee, who shall give the individual concerned a fortnight’s notice of their intention to propose his expulsion, and their reasons therefor.

5th. The association will hold weekly meetings for the transaction of its business – vis., the enrolment of members, receiving reports from committees, sub-committees, etc., and attending to such matters as may, from time to time, be brought before their notice.

6th. The rooms of the association will be open every evening during the week, from seven o’clock pm to eleven o’clock pm, and will be supplied with such books, pamphlets, and newspapers, as the committee may deem advisable.

7th. A quarterly meeting shall be held for the purpose of receiving the report of the outgoing general committee, of electing their successors, and of making any alterations that may be required in the fundamental rules.

8th. None but actual members of the association, or persons introduced for enrolment, shall be admitted to any lecture, or meeting, or to the reading-room, upon any pretext whatsoever, save such persons as may claim a legal right to intrude themselves.

9th. Subscriptions to defray the expenses of the association, reading-rooms, etc., and other incidental charges, will be expected from each member – payments not to be less than one penny weekly.

10th. Lectures on general literature, history, politics, and scientific subjects, shall be delivered by such of the members, and others, as may be competent for that task, as frequently as shall be found convenient, the lecturer to be chosen by the general committee of the association.

11th. A chairman shall be provided for each night of weekly and quarterly meetings by the general committee; all votes at these meetings to be taken by tellers appointed by the Chairman.

12th. That the finances of this association shall be managed by a committee appointed for that purpose; no payments to be mad by the Treasurer without an order from the committee, signed by the chairman and two members of the same; the accounts to be audited and laid before the members at the first public meeting in each month.

Objects and Rules of the Irish Democratic Association (1850)

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