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Tuesday, May 19, 1998 Published at 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK




Campaigners target wavering vote
image: [ Politicians are telling voters to think of their children ]
Politicians are telling voters to think of their children

The UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is to appeal directly to the voters of Northern Ireland to vote Yes in Friday's historic referendum on the political agreement.

With only three full days of campaigning before both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland go to the polls, Mr Blair will speak to the province's people in a BBC Radio Ulster phone-in from 10 Downing Street at 0900 BST.

You can listen to the broadcast live on BBC News Online.

Mr Blair's appeal to the voters comes as he prepares for a final visit to the province ahead of the vote.

And as referendum campaigns move into the final days, attention will increasingly focus on the large number of people under the age of 30 who are believed to be undecided.

Ashdown visit


[ image: Ashdown: Visiting RUC and Army]
Ashdown: Visiting RUC and Army
The Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown, becomes the latest political leader to visit the province in the cross-party yes campaign.

Together with Lord Alderdice of the Alliance Party, Mr Ashdown is meeting members of the RUC and soldiers serving in Northern Ireland.

Mr Ashdown, who served as a soldier on the streets of the province, hopes his visit might ease concerns among security personnel.

"Peace is not an event, it is a process," he said before leaving for Northern Ireland.

"Decommissioning of weapons is important but it must be part of a process of dismantling the mentality of war."

Key under-30s vote


[ image: Trimble: Appearing at U2 concert]
Trimble: Appearing at U2 concert
But the last stages of the referendum may increasingly focus on the large group of people in Northern Ireland who have grown up under the shadow of violence.

Polls carried out this week for the Daily Telegraph, Irish Times, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph suggest that significant numbers of voters are still undecided.

According to one poll up to 31% of voters aged 18 to 30 have yet to make up their minds, some 100,000 of the province's 1.2 million electorate.

The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and the SDLP's John Hume are taking the unprecedented step of appearing together on stage after Irish rock band U2's concert from Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

They are expected to use the occasion to appeal to these undecided voters to back the agreement.

It is believed that as many as 75% of Northern Irish Catholics aged 18 to 30 intend to vote Yes on Friday.

With the Yes campaign seeking a 70% mandate from the province, the young unionist vote may prove decisive.






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