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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Commission studies youth 'apathy'
Polling station
Young people tend not to vote in elections
A study has been set up by the Electoral Commission to find out why young people in Northern Ireland have apparently disengaged from politics.

The commission has been running residential courses with young people aged between 16 and 24 to try to find out the reasons for their apathy.

A piece of artwork has been made to represent the views of those involved in the study.

It is to be unveiled at the Long Gallery at Stormont on Wednesday.

Stuart Mullan, outreach officer at the commission's Belfast office, said their message for young people was that if they did not vote then "in a sense you are automatically taking a step backwards rather than a step forward".

He said that at the last general election about 35% of 18 to 24 year olds voted.

Students

"Our research would indicate that young people are much more likely to discuss political issues than any other section of the population, and yet they clearly aren't making the connection between the issues they are passionate about and the ballot box," he said.

Mr Mullan said their research indicated that young people felt unrepresented by politicians.

He said the commission would, in particular, target students starting university and college courses because they would be moving from their usual address.

"We've been helping students register their term-time addresses and also giving them information that helps them link up the issues with the politicians," he said.

The research will continue throughout the summer and a final report will be published in September.



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