Joe Purcell, a Dublin actor who stars in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, has been sentenced to 100 hours of community service for stealing food to feed his family.
Just months after being driven to the set of “Game of Thrones” in Antrim, in a limousine, he was forced to steal groceries to feed his three children.
A mix up with child benefit payments meant that they were sent to the wrong address, leaving Purcell (57) “just desperate” and running out of money.
He told the Irish Independent, “If your children have no food what do you do? if you have no money what do you do?
“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, from Tallaght in Dublin, told his story as part of a new report commissioned by the Department of Social Protection. This study showed that 430,000 people (10 percent of the population) in Ireland are living in food poverty.
The actor said that in August 2012 he ran out of money and has no money to buy food for his children, aged nine, 11 and 16.
He spent 20 years working in the UK and returned to Ireland five years ago. Purcell says his prospects in the acting profession have dried up.
Purcell’s character in “Game of Thrones” will be featured in the next season of the HBO hit. He told the Irish Independent how strange it is that only months ago he was put up in the Europa Hotel in Belfast and driven around in limousines.
He said, “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 described getting away with stealing in a store, when he’d only gone in to buy some milk and how in another shop he got caught by a manager stealing some bread rolls, cornflakes and sugar.