A mural urges Northern Irish passers-by to “end sectarianism” in Belfast. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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The sudden collapse of a power-sharing agreement that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland has angered a younger generation who feel robbed of their future by the failure of politicians to get over the sectarian prejudices of the past. After bitter compromises over paramilitaries and policing, the province's cross-community government finally imploded over farmers abusing a green-energy scheme, forcing an election on March 2 .While jobs are disappearing in older industries like farming and manufacturing, Northern Ireland and its politicians lack the entrepreneurial culture to create new ones, he said.In many areas Northern Ireland badly lags behind its neighbor, with half the tourists per head of population.Few people see the election in March as delivering a breakthrough.Ten of 12 young people questioned by Reuters in a straw poll in Belfast voiced deep frustration with sectarian bickering.Voter turnout has fallen consistently from 70 percent in the first Northern Ireland Assembly elections in 1998 to 55 percent last year, with a half of under-22-year-olds voting compared to two-thirds of over 65s.
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