A teenager whose family were forced to leave the county during the recession to find work is now being hit with higher university fees if she wants to study in Ireland.
Molly Boggan was nine when her family relocated from Rathcore, Co Meath to Perth in Western Australia in 2008. Her father James works in civil project engineering and he struggled to find work after the collapse in the building industry.
Ms Boggan (17) went through the Australian school system but she always dreamed of returning to Ireland to study law at university.
However, during a return visit last month, she was told that in order to enroll at an Irish university she must pay fees of €7,000. This is the rate for EU citizens looking to study in Ireland and is over twice the registration fee of €3,043 charged to students resident here.
She has been told that in order to qualify for this lower rate her parents would need to have been living and paying taxes in the state for three of the last five years.
"My family just cannot afford this," she said. "I think it's unfair, it's not my fault or my family's fault that we had to leave the country and now it feels like we are being punished because I want to return home."
Ms Boggan, who has three younger brothers, said she struggled to settle into the Australian education system and it has always been her dream to return to Ireland to study and live.
She is hoping to study for a Bachelors in Law at Dublin City University (DCU).
"I just don't understand how if I have an Irish passport, my parents own a property in Ireland and have always paid their taxes, that I have to deal with these crazy fees to study in my birth country.
"The government is talking about bringing the young people of Ireland back to their native home. However, for me and I'm sure for many others in my situation who would love to return home, we just can't do so as we are faced with outrageous fees.
"I want to return to my homeland to study, live among my extended family and hopefully in the future practice a legal career, but how can I being faced with this? It's just not possible and it honestly is heartbreaking."
Ms Boggan's father James said the fees may simply be too high for the family to pay.
"I have three other kids to support. It is going to work out very expensive.
"€7,000 would be AUS$10,000, that's AUS$30,000 over three years on fees alone. You also have the day-to-day surviving while she is there. We feel like we are being hit on both ends."
Independent.ie has contacted the Department of Education and DCU for a comment.
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