Northern Ireland

NI Assembly election: West Belfast teenagers talk election

The Sallygardens Community Centre in Poleglass
Image caption The Sallygardens Community Centre in Poleglass on the outskirts of west Belfast brings together younger people.

Much of the focus of this election has been on 18 year olds - those born the year the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

When it comes to more socially deprived areas what are teenagers hoping the election can deliver for them?

The Sallygardens Community Centre in Poleglass on the outskirts of west Belfast brings together younger people to play pool and relax.

So what will win their votes?

Pádraig Maguire is a sixth former and first-time voter: "I just want to see an assembly that represents me - working class people. I feel the working class have been neglected."

His friend, Andrew Carson, agrees: "I would like to see more investment in the health service. And tuition fees are important to me too."

Removing the border is also important to Andrew: "I'd love a united Ireland. That's what I've been brought up to believe. It's something I aspire to achieve when I'm older."

Could he ever imagine voting for a non-nationalist party? "I don't think I could, no. I think nationalist parties are what I'm restricted to.

"I don't think the unionist parties offer me very much in terms of their social policy. On things like abortion and same sex marriage - I'm quite liberal on those," he added.

Image caption Padriag Maguire and Andrew Carson are both in favour of the creation of a united Ireland which would incorporate unionists

Pádraig agrees: "I wouldn't support a united Ireland that doesn't incorporate our unionist brothers and sisters into it. It's just not viable.

"It's just not the country that I would want my children being brought up in. It needs to be an economic argument rather than a green and orange ticket."

David Whinnery is 15 years-old but feels the voting age should be lowered to 16: "I don't see why not. We should have our issues aired not just adults.

"It's hard living here because there's not many opportunities. We're like the shallow end of the pool because of where we are in Belfast."

He added: "I just want to be able to get a job in the future and get money in my pocket as soon as I can.

"So many people here are going onto benefits. It's the reputation we've had in the past that we're seen as the bottom end of the scale instead of the top."

On Thursday we'll hear from young people on the Shankill Road about what they think of the election campaign so far.

You can watch Tara's report later at 18:30 BST on BBC Newsline.

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