In the introduction to its report, published on 30 June 2015, the Working Group on the Protection Process laid out the central issue which was to dominate its deliberations, namely the length of time that it takes to decide on an application for protection. The Working Group also set out its explanation for delays in the Irish asylum system, namely structural faults arising from a split protection application procedure. Its choice of central issue and its explanation for it led to two key recommendations, the introduction of a single application procedure and a final decision within six months for those in the system for more than five years. The rest of the report and its recommendations are dependent upon an acceptance that the central issue is in fact the length of time and that the explanation for the delays lies in the absence of a single application procedure.

But what if the length of time it takes to determine an application is not simply the result of structural faults in the determination process? What if the length of time is partly the result of, for example, a failure to properly support a person claiming to be a refugee early in their application process leading to a greater possibility of refusals and the need to appeal? What if the lack of a fair and transparent appeals system leads to a backlog of applications in the High Court which, even when successful, simply sees them being returned to the same process? Where would that leave the assertion that a single application procedure will remedy the situation? And how does a single procedure provide an answer to the people who are stuck in or have already been through a ‘structurally faulty’ process?

This article asks why the Working Group focused on the length of time. It examines the documents which preceded the first meeting of the Working Group and the development of the arguments as seen in the deliberations of the Working Group and draft reports which informed the final report. It asks if the explanation of structural faults is sufficient to justify a conclusion, pre-determined by the Government, that a single application procedure is all that is needed as a remedy that will prevent such delays building up again. In doing so, we draw only on the evidence that the Working Group decided to focus upon and therefore seek to show that it had the potential to identify causes but chose not to do so.

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“People likened living in Direct Provision to being in prison, except that in prison, you know the date of your release and you might be paroled if you behave well. There is no light at the end of the tunnel of Direct Provision. Those seeking asylum are warehoused/ segregated/herded into a place outside society. They are stigmatised by the system and this leads to racism.”
Read what people in the asylum seeking process told the Working Group about the length of time and the decision making process 

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