International protection, asylum, subsidiary protection, reform, Ireland, dysfunction
The Irish system of international protection (refugee and subsidiary protection) is broadly recognised to be dysfunctional, with endemic delays in the status-determination procedure and applicants living for years in institutionalised accommodation, never designed for long-term residence or family life. Towards the end of 2014, the Irish government created a Working Group on Protection to investigate and report on how the protection system, including the protection procedure, reception conditions and supports for persons seeking international protection, could be improved. In June 2015, following eight months of deliberation, the Working Group published a report which runs to over 400 pages and addresses nearly every aspect of the protection system. This contribution, written by a member of the Working Group, describes and analyses the deliberative process. It portrays the sometimes contentious negotiations around problem identification and choice of reform options and describes the information shared, the understandings gleaned and compromises made within the group. It also explores the multi-stakeholder deliberative process as encapsulated by the Working Group as a method of policy reform in the area of international protection.