This research paper firstly examines the narrow framing of asylum policy in Ireland and the rigid, lengthy and bureaucratic nature of the asylum application process. It then looks at the role of NGO’s in their representations of asylum seekers and looks specifically at how advocacy, negotiation and consultation take place. Finally, the paper questions the plausibility of positioning asylum seekers as passive and powerless agents in this process.
The paper argues that in the shaping of asylum policy, there has been a dominant discourse in state interactions and discussions, which, in turn, have meant that the way asylum issues are debated publically, remain unbalanced and highly controlled by the political elite. This is evident in its regressive state policy and an emphasis on the credibility of asylum claims, rather than, the framing of asylum policy within the realms of rights and protection. Political mobilisation within this context has, as a result been compromised, through the complex interplay between resistance and power and the resultant narrow avenues for deliberation and participation. Such a framework has effectively meant that migrant organisations operate in a confined public space with state institutions defining the parameters of power and compliance. Additionally, migrant organisations are expected to operate within a state imposed scarcity of resources driven by a culture of competition which contributes to divisions rather than unity within the migrant sector. This in turn impacts on the ability to develop close working relationships and makes the landscape for challenging state control problematic. As noted by Feldman et Al. (2005) this had hindered the ability of migrant NGOs to strategically organise. Within such structures it may seem plausible to pre-suppose that asylum seekers, then, become non-active agents and can be rendered voiceless in this process. To the contrary, this paper argues that despite an absence of balanced public discourse and political voice, many asylum seekers remain actively involved with political processes through self-organisation and self-mobilisation. In doing so, they increasingly occupy a space which provides the scope for inclusive dialogue and empowerment and recognises asylum seekers, themselves, as active and participative in the reframing of asylum debates and discussions in Ireland.
Key Words: Representation; political engagement; bureacratisation; consultation; deliberation; participation.
Feldman, A.,Ndakengerwa, D.L., Nolan, A. And Frese, C. ( 2005) Diversity Civil Society and Social Change in Ireland: A North South comparison of the role of Immigrant/ New Minority Ethnic Led Community and Voluntary Sector Organisations. Dublin; Geary Institute UCD