The fiscal treaty referendum is about Ireland's future, and not about "Germany taking over Europe", the Taoiseach has said.
Enda Kenny used a speech at the University of Ulster in Belfast to say support for the treaty was important for the international reputation of Ireland, north and south.
But before making his address he attacked critics who claimed the treaty is tailored to the interests of the large European powers and not Ireland's needs.
"What we're doing here is asking the Irish people to inform themselves as to what this treaty is actually about," he said.
"What it is not about is Germany taking over Europe.
"This is about Ireland deciding for itself as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for our country and for our people.
"This is about our children's future and the country's future.
"And from that point of view, the Government will see to it that full and comprehensive and thorough information is made available to everybody, in as understandable a fashion as is possible with these things, in recognising that Ireland cannot stop this treaty, once it has been ratified by 12 countries.
"So the train for the future of Europe leaves on January 1, 2013.
"And I want our country to be on that."