I have been having problems with the LIRC Modules. From what I can tell so far,
1. Kubuntu installs the lircd.conf file in /etc/lirc/ not /etc and the software is looking to add configuration information to a file that does not exist. I was able to over come this by ln -s /etc/lirc/lircd.conf /etc/lircd.conf. The interesting thing that happened though was that after a router reload /etc/lircd.conf has been overwritten, but it is no longer a symlink.
2. I had to edit /etc/lirc/hardware.conf file to reflect the driver= default and the device /dev/lirc0 ( as the defaults are not correct ie /dev/lirc or /dev/lirc/0)
Only then did the lircd restart without errors.
I have also noticed that since this recent update, The function of the remote buttons is completely different, which is probably what you are describing as emulating Keypresses.
you can try the following to see if the LIRC_DCE plugin is working.
/usr/pluto/bin/LIRC_DCE -d <device #> -r localhost
Before the update, Back button while in different plugins acted as escape button and not taking you back in the orbiter. For instance, Mythtv bring up OSD, prior hitting Back would exit the OSD, now it returns you to the orbitors main screen, as if you hit Home before. Recorded TV used to bring up Recorded TV shows with in mythtv, but now it always brings up the Video Menu.
There is table in the pluto_main called Remote Mapping which allows for remapping the button in different screens.
THis may be a place to look, but as best as I can tell the LIRC_DCE plugin is not starting properly, but I have not been able to debug it.
I hope this is helpful,