Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Claire Dorrity
Political Studies Association of Ireland - Annual Conference
The Political Representation of Asylum Seekers: Questioning Practices of Participation and Deliberation
Strand Hotel, Limerick, Ireland
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
The political representation of asylum seekers in Ireland is a contentious issue, which presents particular challenges for processes of deliberation and participation. Over the past two decades, Ireland has witnessed a shift away from traditional forms of governance, which have been supplanted by the state’s interest in establishing more inclusive mechanisms of participation and a deepening of democratic processes (Gaynor, 2011). While migrant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have welcomed the merits of inclusive mechanisms of governance, they also highlight concerns about the democratic legitimacy of such processes (Lentin, 2012). Academic commentators have indicated that the state’s move towards more deliberative mechanisms of governance has been accompanied by a competitive funding environment that has had particular implications for forms of engagement between state institutions and migrant NGOs (Harvey, 2014; Lentin and Morea, 2012; Cullen, 2009; Spencer, 2006; Feldman, 2005. Such a framework has been manufactured through a system of compliance, which has narrowed the scope for social activism and resistance among migrant NGOs. Questioning the trajectories of participation, this paper aims to explore how deliberating processes have become co-opted into controlling state practices, affecting the types and quality of representation that migrant NGOs can provide. Rather than channelling the voice of excluded groups into the political system through models of representation that pursue participatory goals and inclusion, I argue that dominant state practices have become embedded and internalised in the engagement mechanisms of migrant NGOs when representing asylum seekers. This has contributed to a diminishing of deliberative spaces both internally within organisations and externally in the ways migrant NGOs engage with both their own members and state actors. This in turn, has contributed to a weak public and political environment for furthering political equality, accountability, and leadership in the political representation of asylum seekers in Ireland.