Treaty 'for children of future'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the European fiscal treaty is an insurance policy for Ireland and the children of the future.
As three major trade unions formed a formidable No bloc, Mr Kenny urged voters to think about how they will guarantee their future in the May 31 referendum.
Unite, Mandate and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) have dealt the coalition Government a major blow by refusing to support the pact.
Mr Kenny said the decision for voters is whether they want to guarantee their future with an insurance policy that would allow Ireland to draw money from the European Stability Mechanism.
Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president, insisted that the Taoiseach's assessment was wrong.
"If Irish citizens reject the treaty, the state will not be excluded from future help from the European Stability Mechanism," Mr Adams said. "This is an empty threat which has been referred to as a blackmail clause. This clause is not an article of the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) treaty."
Mr Adams said there is a clause which would ensure that no member state is denied funding if the wider stability of the eurozone is under threat.
The TEEU, with 40,000 members, announced its opposition after Siptu published a detailed document last Thursday which portrayed the treaty as a one-sided austerity proposal and called for a huge stimulus package.
Meanwhile the executive of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will meet on Wednesday to decide its position on the referendum.
Unite, which, along with Mandate, has 100,000 members, has said it will push Congress to speak with one voice against the treaty. Eamon Devoy, TEEU general secretary, said the decision to call a No vote was not taken lightly.