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Yes still in lead ahead of abortion referendum but with narrowing majority

The Yes side maintains an advantage in the Republic's referendum on the Eighth Amendment. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE Yes side continues to maintain an advantage in the Republic's referendum on the Eighth Amendment - but its lead has narrowed over the past month, the latest opinion poll shows.

When asked how they will vote in next Friday's referendum, 44 per cent of respondents to the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI survey said they would vote in favour of repealing the amendment, which protects the life of the unborn child. The latest Yes figure represents a three point drop since the last opinion poll in late April.

The No vote is at 32 per cent, an increase of four points, while 17 per cent are undecided – a decline of three points on last month. Seven per cent of respondents said they will not vote or refused to say.

Once the undecideds and those who will not vote are excluded, the Yes side leads by 58 per cent to 42 per cent.

Pollsters predicted a tightening of the race close to the May 25 polling day with the gap expected to narrow further over the coming days.

Dublin remains the most pro-repeal part of the Republic, with the Yes side leading in the capital by 68 per cent to 32 per cent, once undecideds and unlikely voters are excluded.

The Yes lead is smaller but clear in the rest of Leinster and Munster, while the two sides are almost tied in Connacht and the three Ulster counties in the Republic, with 51 per cent of declared likely voters saying they will vote Yes and 49 per cent opting for No.

The survey shows that younger voters are much more likely to support the Yes side.

Meanwhile, the Association of Papal Orders, a Catholic organisation composed of laymen and laywomen, has released a statement urging a NO vote in the referendum.

The group said that instead of offering abortion, Irish society should concentrate on "real support and real alternatives to pregnant women and to fathers".

They said an "abortion culture would... diminish us all as a society".

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