Down Syndrome Ireland has kicked off its 50-year anniversary with a new campaign, The Upside that highlights the value of inclusion for people with Down syndrome in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Barry Sheridan, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland said, “The Upside aims to highlight just how much further we as a society have to go to call ourselves truly inclusive, despite the tireless efforts of so many during the past 50 years. It will show both the shortcomings and progress of living with Down syndrome in Ireland across four aspects of life: health, education, the workplace and life in the community. “

A special report, The Upside – Life with Down syndrome has been released as part of the campaign. Fresh data from a new survey commissioned by Down Syndrome Ireland and conducted by Empathy Research shines a light on the gaps between public attitudes and societal aspirations towards inclusion and the harsh realities of life for people with Down syndrome and their families. Currently, Ireland has the lowest rate of employment and one of the highest poverty rates for people with disabilities in the EU.[1]

“We need to change this. In the past 5 years, Down Syndrome Ireland has submitted over 20 submissions to a wide and varied range of Government consultations. We have participated in numerous pilot programmes, but significant gaps to inclusion remain. The time for discussion has passed. Now it is time for action”, he said.

The charity has outlined #21Demands for this Government to bring about real change in achieving disability rights in this country. These demands include calls for full implementation of already adopted legislation and policies, as well the need for urgent updating of long-standing laws which are out of date, irrelevant and unfit for purpose.

Mr Sheridan continued, “For example, there is key legislation such as the 2015 Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act, that has not been fully implemented. This leaves vulnerable people having their capacity challenged using the 1871 Lunacy Act, a 150-year-old law.   It is unacceptable and shocking that it is still in place.  Let’s make it the last anniversary of this law.

“On our 50th birthday, we re-dedicate ourselves to a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realise their life’s aspirations and become valued members of a welcoming society.” 

60 Foot Street Artwork Unveiled

A dramatic piece of street artwork by renowned artist and activist Joe Caslin in Dublin City Centre was also unveiled today. The 60ft piece features 21-year-old Amanda Butler from Mullingar, which occupies the gable end of a building at the junction of Harcourt Street and Clonmel Street in Dublin. Amanda lives with her family on a farm in Mullingar, enjoys cooking, is an excellent swimmer and loves music – particularly Westlife and Bruce Springsteen. She’s currently working on developing job skills through her college and hopes to find work in hospitality, retail or helping to take care of others in childcare or adult daycare service.

Excited to be part of the campaign Amanda says, “I am so excited to be part of Down Syndrome Ireland’s anniversary. I am grateful I have been given the chance to shine.”

The artwork is part of a wider programme of activities as part of the charity’s new campaign, which focuses on four key aspects of life for a person with Down syndrome: health, education, employment and life in the community.

For further information about the campaign and how you can get involved please visit The Upside  

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