Campaign ambassador Amanda Butler with the 'Don't Talk Down to Me' mural in Dublin today. Leah Farrell/
down syndrome ireland

Mural by Joe Caslin unveiled in Dublin to mark 50th anniversary of Down Syndrome Ireland

The unveiling coincided with a new report released as part of a campaign by Down Syndrome Ireland.

A MURAL CELEBRATING people with Down syndrome has been unveiled in Dublin city centre today. 

The 60ft tall piece of artwork entitled ‘Don’t Talk Down to Me’ was created by artist and activist Joe Caslin to mark Down Syndrome Ireland’s 50th birthday. 

It can be seen on the side of a building at the corner of Harcourt Street and Clonmel Street in the capital.

The artwork features 21-year-old Amanda Butler from Mullingar, Co Westmeath. 

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

Caslin’s previous pieces have also focused on prevalent social issues in Irish society.

Perhaps his most famous work was the mural advocating for same-sex marriage, which appeared on George’s Street in 2015.

Another series of works, Our Nation’s Sons, looked at the issues facing boys and young men in the state, while The Volunteers series highlighted the importance of volunteerism for issues such as drug addiction, mental health, and direct provision. 

Speaking at today’s launch, Caslin said: “The artwork is Amanda looking down on the world and she is asking you to consider her place within a community, a workplace, and the healthcare setting.”

down-syndrome-ireland-the-upside-campaign Artist Joe Caslin and Amanda Butler at today's launch. Damien Eagers / PA Images Damien Eagers / PA Images / PA Images

The unveiling of the mural coincides with a new report launched by Down Syndrome Ireland as part of a new campaign. 

‘The Upside’ campaign focuses on four key aspects of life for a person with Down syndrome: health, education, employment and life in the community.

The report, ‘The Upside – Life with Down syndrome‘, outlines the gaps between public attitudes and societal aspirations towards inclusion and the harsh realities of life for people with Down syndrome and their families. 

It found that while over 60% of  post primary students with Down syndrome would like to go to college, less than 30% were doing some kind of course before the Covid-19 pandemic, many of which were delivered in a health setting by care staff.

It also found that the number of people with Down syndrome currently in paid employment is likely to be less than 10%. 

According to the Oireachtas Disability Group Pre-Budget Submission 2021, Ireland currently has lowest rate of employment and one of the highest poverty rates for people with a disability in the EU.

“We need to change this,” Down Syndrome Ireland CEO Barry Sheridan said. 

“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 added.

Almost 75% of respondents with a family member with Down syndrome said the Government needs to provide greater supports.

The report outlines 21 Demands for the 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 as the need for urgent updating of long-standing laws which are “out of date, irrelevant and unfit for purpose”.

Sheridan added that there is key legislation that has not yet been fully implemented, such as the 2015 Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act.

“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 for this law,” he said. 

“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.” 

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