THE grandmother of abducted Irish boy Faris Heeney has visited the boy's uncle in prison to beg him to persuade his brother to return the child from Egypt.
Marian Heeney met Faris's uncle Mostafa Ismaeil – who is in Portlaoise Prison after being jailed for the abduction of the six-year-old – to ask him to convince the boy's father, his brother Amir, to return her grandson to Ireland.
Faris's mother, Norma Heeney, has been campaigning for four years to have him brought home from Egypt, after Mostafa smuggled the then two-year-old out of the country dressed as a girl.
He is serving a six-year sentence for the abduction, which took place in July 2009, and is due for release in April.
Amir and another brother fled Ireland while on bail facing a charge of sexual assault.
Marian last night told the Irish Independent that Mostafa has told her it is "unlikely" that Amir will allow the little boy to be brought back to Ireland.
She was speaking ahead of a meeting between the Heeney family and Egyptian diplomats in Dublin today to discuss the custody battle.
It is understood that Faris is living in his father's home in Tanta, north of Cairo.
Norma has visited a number of times and she has spoken about how she has received threatening phone calls from Amir demanding money.
She said last week: "Faris was my life. I'm totally dead inside, my heart is ripped out. I'm in total anxiety about the welfare of my son."
Her sister, Amy, last night said Marian pleaded with the boy's uncle to "please talk sense to your brother, please get him to send Faris home"
She added: "In their minds they've done nothing wrong. He's his father, what's the problem, you know?"
Marian said she visits Mostafa because she was asked by his brothers while she was on a trip to Egypt to provide him with money for the prison tuck shop.
She described the visits as "heart-wrenching" and "draining".
"As far as he's concerned, it's all over, he's going back to Egypt in April but he may get out for Christmas with good behaviour.
"He doesn't really have an awful lot to say. He said he'd seen the story in the papers and he said you know your government doesn't care – there's nothing they'll do."
Asked what he said about the prospect of Amir returning Faris to Ireland she said: "He thinks it's unlikely."
The family have been critical of the Government, saying they have not done enough to help secure Faris's return to Ireland.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs last night said it is continuing to provide "consular assistance".
The Department of Justice said Egypt is not a contracting party of the 1980 Hague Convention on child abduction, so its staff are "not in a position to assist when a child has been taken to Egypt."