AN ACTOR has told how he was forced to steal food for his three children just months after being driven around in limousines while filming 'Game of Thrones'.
Joe Purcell told how he felt "just desperate" after running out of money.
Purcell (57), from Donomore Park, in Tallaght, Dublin, who has also performed 'Pygmalion' at the Abbey Theatre, said he hit a financial crisis after a mix-up with child benefit payments meant the allowance was sent to the wrong address.
The actor, who faces 100 hours of community service after being convicted for the thefts, told his story as a new report commissioned by the Department of Social Protection showed how 430,000 people are now living in food poverty.
Purcell recalled how, in August of this year, he found they had run out of money and had nothing to buy food for their three children with, aged nine, 11 and 16.
He told the Irish Independent that he was surprised by the level of support he received since he went public over what happened.
"If your children have no food what do you do? if you have no money what do you do?" he asked.
"I am a thief but there are thieves and there are thieves. It was food I was stealing. I'm not ashamed of it now.
"What man wouldn't (do it) if his children are hungry? When society lets down people at the very lowest level that is what happens."
Purcell, who spent more than 20 years working in the UK before returning to Ireland about five years ago, said prospects in the acting professions have dried up.
He will appear in two episodes of the next season of 'Game of Thrones'. While he was working on the episodes, he was put up in the Europa Hotel in Belfast and driven around in limousines.
"A couple of months down the road I found myself in a shop stealing. That is the strangeness of it. It's not working, it's just surviving."
Purcell recalled how he stole after going into a shop and buying some milk.
On this occasion he "got away with it", so in a second shop he took some bread rolls, cornflakes and sugar but was caught by the manager.