The Value of the Upside

The Upside – Life with Down syndrome report

“A real republic requires a wide embrace, inclusive of all its members.”

– President Michael D. Higgins, Patron of Down Syndrome Ireland

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

Our The Upside – Life with Down syndrome Report shines a light on each of those themes. It includes new research on the current perceptions surrounding Down syndrome which highlights the gaps that remain between the public’s aspiration and the reality for people with Down syndrome and their families. 

Currently, Ireland has lowest rate of employment and one of the highest poverty rates for people with disability in the EU.

The report includes 21 Demands a discrete and specific list of demands of Government, wider stakeholders and society, if implemented, represents real and tangible progress towards the shared goal of inclusion. 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of already adopted legislation and policies, as well the need for urgent updating of long standing laws which are out of date, irrelevant and unfit for purpose.

A look at the benefits to us all when people with Down syndrome are included in society in a meaningful way.


For the past fifty years, Down Syndrome Ireland has campaigned and celebrated the lives of people with Down syndrome, who were once hidden away, regularly forgotten and barely acknowledged by society.

Today this is changing. Our society increasingly embraces diversity and inclusion, recognition that a diverse and inclusive society is a better society for all of us. People with Down syndrome are increasingly taking their rightful place in our communities. Down Syndrome Ireland is proud of what has been achieved, but the journey is far from complete.


There is a long way to go before people with Down syndrome are afforded the same rights entitled to every person in the State, are encouraged to pursue their dreams and ambitions, and enjoy the same freedoms to develop their capabilities to the fullest. People with Down syndrome demand their voices are heard.

In 2021 the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Down Syndrome Ireland, 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 aspirations and become valued members of a welcoming society.

A diverse and inclusive society is a better society for all. This is the Upside manifesto.

This includes:

  • Prompt access to healthcare for the many conditions which are more common if you have an extra chromosome.
  • Early interventions, to learn how to communicate and make choices.
  • Education at all levels for all ages, designed to promote learning for all.
  • Access to meaningful employment opportunities
  • Individualised funding initiatives that allow people to choose how they would like to be supported.
  • The opportunity to participate and express themselves as part of an inclusive community and society where everyone is valued and contributions can be made.



We call on each and every one of us to do our part to close these gaps and ensure that progress continues over the next 50 years, to help us become a more inclusive society where every person is more valued and included. Together we can realise the inclusion dividend.