This article analyses the evolution of the Irish economic crisis and its implications for social protection policy, specifically for working age adults, in the context of European integration and Irelandís status as a small state member of the EU. We look at how neither small state
characteristics, nor the position of small states in the EU, both of which raise problematic issues in their own right, are alone responsible for Irelandís crisis situation. Such factors need to be
understood in conjunction with national policy models and preferences which, in the Irish case, leant it something of an outlier status in the EU. Substantiating this argument and considering its implications for social protection reform, the article first examines the evolution of Irelandís liberal
and increasingly financialized growth model in the context of greater European economic integration and how its risks intensified, but were also obscured, under Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Second, against this backdrop and despite the growing EU role in social policy, it
examines how national policy factors meant that focus on income transfers remained dominant in social protection developments during the growth period spanning the mid-1990s to 2008. Third, it analyses the unprecedented degree of social protection retrenchment and reform occurring since the crisis, highlighting the congruence between national efforts and the impact of conditionalities associated with financial assistance. The article concludes by considering the question of to what
extent Ireland will remain an outlier post-crisis given the direction the EU has taken in dealing with the Eurozone crisis to date.