Minister Simon Coveney Unveils Cork City Mural Marking 50 Years of Down Syndrome Ireland

This morning Down Syndrome Ireland’s Cork branch launched a vibrant mural at Cork City Library to mark the charity’s 50th anniversary. Cork’s Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher and Minister Simon Coveney launched the 10ft mural, featuring three people of different generations with Down syndrome, spanning the length of the building.

The mural entitled The Upside Wall was created by local Artist Paul La Rocque and is part of a number of awareness building and fundraising activities that have taken place this celebratory year and coincides with Down Syndrome Awareness  – October. The charities’ Upside campaign focuses on the four key aspects of life for a person with Down syndrome: health, education, employment and life in the community which are represented in Paul’s artwork. Paul’s mural is bright and uplifting pop art theme, similar to the style of Andy Warhol and features an adult, teenager and child with Down syndrome in a mixture of photography and art. Passers-by are encouraged to stop and look for various symbolic images in the mural including UCC, which symbolises education, and a bus which symbolises independence along with other services people with Down syndrome are entitled to.

The three people who feature in the mural include John Sweetnam who celebrates his 51st birthday this morning. John’s mother Hazel (who also features in the mural) was key in setting up Down Syndrome Ireland’s Cork branch back when parents had to fight tooth and nail for what were the most basic of services let alone rights. Four-year-old Harry Brassel from Cork city whose mum Orla regularly shares on her popular social media channel ‘At Home with Harry’ which has grown a big following and teenager Lily Atkinson (13) from Ballintemple whose mum Brenda volunteers with Down Syndrome Cork and calls her A bright fun-loving teenager who has brought so much happiness to our family“.

Speaking at the launch the Glanmire birthday boy John Sweetman said Seeing my face on the mural has helped make my 51st birthday extra special today. I want to thank my mum Hazel who set up Down Syndrome Cork and also features on the mural! The branch has been a great support to me and my family and to lots of other families in Cork.

Barry Sheridan, CEO, Down Syndrome Ireland says Following our mural in Dublin this summer we are thrilled to see Cork following suit with a spectacular mural that will drive awareness for people with Down syndrome in the community. We encourage all to visit where you can view positive stories and our 21 demands which aim to secure the same basic rights and opportunities as everyone to develop their capabilities to the fullest.

 The 21 Demands are part of a special report, The Upside – Life with Down syndrome released  to coincide with the charity’s 50th birthday and highlights the gaps between the public’s aspirations and the reality for people with Down syndrome and their families in day-to-day life.

Simon Coveney TD and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense said, This is a very special day for the people of Cork and nationwide. The 50th anniversary of Down Syndrome Ireland marks an important milestone for a better future where re-dedicate ourselves to building 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

 To find out more about The Upside campaign and to make a donation please visit

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