Businessman Dunne gave family of kidnapped Faris €20,000 'lifeline'
BUSINESS tycoon Ben Dunne donated €20,000 to a family who are trying to retrieve their kidnapped son from Egypt.
It has been revealed Mr Dunne gave the money to the family of the kidnapped Irish national Faris Daniel Heeney in January 2012, after the boy's father indicated he would then be returned. But yesterday he played down his generous act -- which the family have described as "a lifeline" -- after he was approached by the boy's aunt.
"The woman came to me in a very distressed state. And she had tried every avenue that was open to her. She needed help, and I helped," Mr Dunne told the Irish Independent.
The 64-year-old, who was himself kidnapped in 1981, said he is also a parent and grandfather. "I like to do something for people who are in dire straits from time to time," Mr Dunne said.
The former director of Dunnes Stores added the assistance that is being provided to the Heeney family from the Government is not enough, and that it "agitates" him.
Faris was taken to Egypt by his uncle under his father's orders four years ago.
The Heeney family were led to believe he would be returned to them if they were to provide his father, Amir Ismaeil, money which he said he was going to use to irrigate his land.
This deal fell through and the family returned approximately €16,000 to Mr Dunne.
Faris's grandmother, Marian Heeney, travelled to Egypt with the money that Mr Dunne gave the family in early 2012, along with her husband Noel.
However, after a number of days it became clear that Faris would not be allowed to return and they managed to leave with most of the money.
"In fairness to Mr Dunne, he said: 'Don't worry about the money.' We got home with the money, and gave the bulk of it back to Mr Dunne," Ms Heeney said.
The boy remains in Egypt with his father in the family home in Tanta, north of Cairo.
The Heeney family yesterday met with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in Dail Eireann. The Government has faced difficulties in retrieving Faris, as Egypt is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on child abduction and there is no extradition agreement between Egypt and Ireland.