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Monday, May 18, 1998 Published at 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK

Clinton backs Yes vote
image: [ Referendum day is this Friday for the people of Northern Ireland ]
Referendum day is this Friday for the people of Northern Ireland

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton joined forces to get behind the final push for a Yes vote in Friday's referendum on the Stormont agreement.

BBC's Gary Duffy previews the last week of campaigning (47")
Mr Blair tried to reassure those concerned about arms decommissioning and the release of paramilitary prisoners.

He said: "If we can get real peace and stability there, the chances for people in Northern Ireland are just amazing, and we would like them to take advantage of that."

"The easiest thing in politics is simply to say No. The easiest thing is to say 'change is something I am afraid of'. I say to everyone who takes that attitude 'reflect on what the future holds if there is a No vote'.

[ image: Tony Blair will return to Northern Ireland for the third time this week]
Tony Blair will return to Northern Ireland for the third time this week
"Every generation gets its chances. This is the chance for this generation in Northern Ireland and we have done our best to provide it, but in the end it is their decision."

Clinton: 'Think of the future'

Mr Clinton said Irish-American Protestants and Catholics wanted stability in Northern Ireland which would attract more investment.

He said: "If I were an Irish Protestant, which I am, living in Northern Ireland instead of the United States, I would be thinking about my daughter's future and her children's future.

"I am hoping everyone will be thinking about the future and thinking about their children's future.

"I believe a lot of undecided people will go and vote with their hopes instead of their fears."

Ahern: 'Violence will be crushed'

[ image: The Armagh car bomb was safely defused]
The Armagh car bomb was safely defused
Mr Ahern, speaking during a pre-referendum trip to America, said: "It should be clearly understood that if both the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the whole island vote emphatically for the agreement, this will represent an unassailable democratic verdict from any point of view.

"It will quite literally cut any remaining ground from any organisation that would in defiance of all the people, for any reason, persist in violence. If there is any such violence, it will be firmly crushed."

Northern Ireland Minister Paul Murphy hopes voters will think of the "big picture"
Northern Ireland Minister Paul Murphy told BBC Radio 4's Today programme people should think of the "big picture" on Friday.

He said: "We want people to understand that violence and democracy do not go together and we do need some assurance war is over."

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In this section

No camp rejects Blair campaign

'Trust me' appeals Blair

When is a Yes really a Yes?

Adams: 'I misjudged public reaction'

Referendum challenge fails

Prisoners' release could be key issue

Tourist office targeted

Cross-border fears for many unionists

Paisley: 'Agreement will dilute the union'