A MOTHER-of-two says she has been forced into emigration because "there is no future" for her family in Ireland.
Julie Fitzsimons (31) says she and her two children - Maia (3) and Nikolas (18 months) - are "existing, not living" and the introduction of the water charges is the last straw.
She said she will have to join her husband, Ziggy, who is living and working in the UK having emigrated three months ago.
"I'm 31. I've lived here all my life and I'm very proud to be Irish," Julie, from Limerick, said during an emotional phone call to RTE's 'Liveline' programme yesterday.
"I'm very saddened the situation in this country got to the stage that there's no future for my children. Everybody says it will bounce back, but when? I do not want to see my children watching me struggle to put food on the table."
She said she has worked all her life until she was made redundant in February two years ago - just two months before the birth of her son. She then ran out of food stamps to feed her family and her social welfare payments were cut off - the family's only source of income as Ziggy was off work with depression.
The family struggled to live off €217 in benefits a week, with €150 going towards rent.
Julie was then told she could not draw the dole because she was not free to work full-time, as her children could not be left with Ziggy due to his ill-health.
When Ziggy moved to the UK, her income dropped to €154 - with his wages being saved for a deposit, furniture and moving the family and their belongings across the water. She got another letter last week saying her payments were being cut again to €100. "I sat there and cried and felt 'kick me a bit harder'," she said.
She added her family will be together in their new home in Dorset for Christmas "come hell or high water". "As much as I hate to say it, I can't see us ever coming back," she added, saying "the cost of living and emotional cost" is too high.
THERE was a whiff of desperation emanating from the Government, akin to an auctioneer in a cattle mart beseeching beady-eyed farmers to invest in the bony, spavined beast plodding wearily around the ring in front of them. It's practically giving away the unappetising moo cow, the price dropping with every shout-out. But nobody's convinced.