MOTHERS told Social Protection Minister Joan Burton that she was taking "food from their children's mouths" as a result of her decision to cut child benefit.
She received dozens of heart-rending emails and letters from women critical of her budget decision to cut the monthly payment by between €10 and €20 per child.
Many of them contained deeply personal accounts of how child benefit was not a "luxury" for them but instead was needed to feed and clothe their children.
One mother wrote to Ms Burton saying that she had cut out one of her own daily meals to save money but did not want to do the same for her five children.
"They still need their three meals and fruit a day. Please, please help stop the child benefit cuts as this really will be taking food from my children's mouths. It's not right and it's not fair," she said.
Another mother with four young children said her child benefit payments had been cut by €58 per month as a result of the Budget.
"I cannot sustain this cut as a stay-at-home mum, it is the only personal income I have – it wholly goes towards our family living expenses. Something has to give and the only thing left is the food bill or the mortgage," she wrote.
The 35 emails and letters sent to Ms Burton about her decision to cut child benefit were released under the Freedom of Information Act.
In total, 34 people were critical of the decision. Just one person supported it on the grounds that Ireland still had one of the "most generous welfare systems".