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Abortion vote: The result of referendum is no foregone conclusion

Inside Politics: The last week of campaigning will be intense and decisive

It's an opinion poll day. Today The Irish Times publishes its last opinion poll of the campaign with just over a week to go. The results confirm what we all expected: the gap between the Yes and No sides is closing. The result of the referendum - in which the Yes side has consistently held a strong lead - is no foregone conclusion. But based on today's numbers, it is considerably more likely that the Yes side will win. That is by no means certain though - the contest is still very much alive.

Excluding undecideds and those unlikely to vote, the Yes side leads by 58 per cent to 42 per cent - a lead of 16 points, pretty hefty in the week before polling. But in the last poll, taken in mid-April had the lead at 26 points. So the Yes lead has tumbled a bit. But if the No side is to change the trajectory of the campaign, the Yes lead will have to tumble a lot further and a lot quicker. That is possible, but it is not likely.

The core figures amplify the point. Including undecideds (17 per cent) and those who refused or said they will not vote (7 per cent), the core Yes figure is 44 per cent (down three from last month) and the core No vote is 32 per cent (up four). So the No side is making progress; just not enough to drastically change the picture. It has not yet broken out beyond its base to reach the crucial middle ground voters that want the law to change, but are unsure about the change proposed by the Government. For all the criticism directed at the Yes campaign, it has proved better at talking to the crucial middle ground voters.

The poll was taken on Monday and Tuesday, so it's not possible to gauge what effect - if any - the RTÉ debate on Monday evening had. But judging by the moaning that repealers have been doing about it, they fear it has done them some damage. Minister for Health Simon Harris joined the chorus yesterday, surely an attempt to roll the pitch for next week's television debates. They will certainly be important. The last week of campaigning will be intense and decisive.


Our lead story is here.

My analysis of what the numbers mean is here.

And Aisling Corcoran of Ipsos MRBI goes through the numbers here.

Fiach Kelly and I recorded a spot of windbagging for a podcast special here.

The summaries of the data are here.

And all our abortion referendum coverage is available here.

Knock yourselves out, nerds.

Cancer scandal rumbles on

The scandal of the incorrect smear tests and the treatment of the women affected continues to unfold. Yesterday, Vicky Phelan, who has terminal cancer, and Stephen Teap, whose wife died after a smear test missed her cancer, gave evidence before the Public Accounts Committee. It was a powerful and moving session, according to all reports.

Ours is here.

And Miriam Lord's devastating account is here.

All the signs are that that the political and administrative fallout is not over. Fingers are pointing at senior health and HSE officials. The PAC resumes its hearings this morning. The affair has outraged an awful lot of people and it remains highly combustible.

Martin Wall reports that the new interim head of the HSE has promised that people will be held to account over the scandal.