No Irish names, no pack drill

O Cuiv, Maloney, O Snodaigh, Deenihan, Halligan, O'Brien...

But no Serafinovicz, no Obayomi, no De Lesseps or Staglioni...

The Irish parliament is a very traditionally Irish place. The alleged multiculturalism that came with economic prosperity might never have happened. Ireland is a white, largely male, place, and everyone speaks with an Irish accent, be it Kerry, Donegal or Dublin.

That, at least, is the impression given by the Dáil after the election results flowed in.

By my reckoning, the average TD is white, male, middle-class, around 50, and likely to have been a schoolteacher at some point of his life.

All the more reason to be thankful for the Mick Wallaces, the Ming Flanagans and the Richard Boyd-Barretts. The Dáil badly needs some leavening. It would also be nice, to put it mildly, if it were also an inclusive forum that could understand and represent the interests of all the people who live in this country, create its daily life  - and pay its taxes.

Female representation has been thrashed out in public debate, discussion and media agonising, sincere or not. There are 23 female deputies, putting the percentage pretty well where it was, at 15 per cent. How does this reflect the power of the Irish mammy, the hidden force in our society, or even acknowledge the wit, wisdom, energy and ability of half the population?

But that's a sad old refrain, and draws two typical retorts: but the President is a woman, and has been since 1990 (so it will almost certainly be a man next time); or, women will always give primacy to their children and family duties, and these just don't match with being a national politician.

The other under-represented sector is those who are not native-born, but have come to live in Ireland at some point and now make full contribution to the society. These people often have particular cares or needs, but, on the evidence of the election, nobody will speak up for them.

Towards the end of the election campaign, the Immigrant Council of Ireland launched a campaign here for recognition of obviously non-Irish-born citizens by political parties and canvassers. Called 'Count Me In', the initiative featured a video of half-a-dozen people who originated from India, Africa, China, south-east Asia and the middle East, and are now Irish voters. The ICI pointed out that migrants now make up 10 per cent of the Irish population; in 2010, more than 6,000 people were naturalized as Irish citizens.

According to the CSO, our population of 4.5 million includes nearly 420,000 'non-Irish', of whom 112,548 are from the United Kingdom. There's another 163,227 from the rest of Europe. (2006 figures, the latest comprehensive account). Despite the recession, emigration has been most noticeable among native Irish.

Fidèle Mutwarasibo, who works as Integration Manager with the ICI, says he gets a hard time every time he comes through passport control after a foreign trip, although he has been a citizen for a decade. And when canvassers saw his distinctly African appearance when he answered his door, they visibly lost interest.

Mossajee Bhamjee, TD for Clare from 1992-1997, was an anomaly, as appears the case with Rotimi Adebari, councillor and then mayor of Portlaoise, who was born in Nigeria.

Mr Adebari said at the time of his election, in 2007, that it proved Ireland was not only 'a land of a thousand welcomes', but also of opportunity. The opportunity that has been afforded Irish people who sought a better life abroad, perhaps.

Ireland is still, it seems, a homogeneous place, at least in its official incarnation, and its self-image. Possibly the question of Irish identity is still too fragile, in a comparatively young country, for it to include a melting-pot of appearance and origin.

But even those who are not evidently born elsewhere fail to get full acceptance. Although Canadian, American, Australian people, from similar cultural backgrounds, all live here, there has never – I stand to be corrected – been a TD with an accent that would mark him or her out as a blow-in of this type.

(Martin Mansergh, of course, who sounded like a lord of the manor, was born and raised in England. But his apparent brilliance added to a quality of being 'sui generis' in the Galway races tent that was Fianna Fáil. )

A middle-aged woman, a 'high-achiever' who has lived in Ireland many years but grew up in Britain, of eastern European parents, told me recently that she never felt accepted here, because of her (English) accent. Not that people were unkind: but there was a ceiling.

A Trinity College research project resulted in the report Current and Future Reality of Ireland's Multicultural Status. Published last year, this concluded that Ireland would remain a multicultural country in the years ahead, and that policies should reflect this.

But the make-up of the Dáil gives no clue that anybody lives here other than the descendants of descendants of descendants of the native-born.

So the 31st Dáil, supposedly set to be a mould-breaker because of the high number of Independents (19, if you include members of the United Left Alliance), could just be a tame gang of men in suits, representing people in suits just like them.

The state of the Dail:

Fine Gael 76

Labour 37

Sinn Féin 14

FF 20

Indies 19

Men (white) 143

Age under 30: 3

Age over 60: 22

Schoolteachers: Around 30 (including third-level lecturers)