Ben Dunne: 'I should have got professional help after being kidnapped'

The businessman joined Bobby Kerr to discuss the EU, the gym business, and an amusing lunch with Sinn Féin...

Ben Dunne: 'I should have got professional help after being kidnapped'

Ben Dunne. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Businessman Ben Dunne has said he should have gotten professional help after he was kidnapped in the 1980s.

Ben - one of Ireland's best-known entrepreneurs but also a controversial figure - joined Bobby Kerr for an in-depth interview on Bobby's Late Breakfast.

Mr Dunne was taken hostage by Republican paramilitaries in 1981 on his way to open a branch of Dunnes Stores in Newry.

He was held captive for six days before being freed, but it is still unknown if a ransom was ever paid.

Ben explained: "It was a frightening experience, and it was traumatic. But I recovered from it. I recovered without any professional help.

"I'm not a fella who ever calls himself a victim. But I should have went and got professional help after being kidnapped. I didn't realise the scarring that took place in my brain. But I'm not blaming it for any of the things that happened in my life."

Ben is well able to joke about some of his past experiences, however, and he told Bobby about his efforts to diffuse some of the tension at a Sinn Féin lunch with a bit of humour.

Ben has some very strong opinions on the issue of Brexit and Europe.

He observed: "If the EU steps in and says to the Irish people 'no, sorry, you must pay for water' - all of a sudden, we could find ourselves in a situation where we become anti-European.

"I think the European Union has got to go back to where it was on day one - it's all about trade [...] It wasn't supposed to run our lives."

"I've always considered work a hobby"

Currently, Ben is best-know for Ben Dunne Gyms - the successful chain of gyms that he operates around the country (with several in the UK as well).

"I'm not retired, but I'm enjoying getting old," Ben told Bobby. "I've never considered work work - I've always considered work a hobby. If it's a hobby, you do it as you want to do it.

"I play golf. If I'm playing good golf, I'll play more and more of it. If I play bad golf, you won't see me near the golf course. It's the same with work [...] Fortunately we have a very successful business growing."

He admitted there were things he does not like about his job.

"Even in my own business now - and I own the thing 100% - there are things I don't particularly like doing in the gym business. But I have to do it, it's part of the job.

"When I took over Dunnes Stores, there was things I didn't like doing. But I had to do it. Even the ordinary person who is working in an organisation [...] it just is a fact of life.

He added: "Everybody should remember it's how you handle the bad days, not the good days. The good days are very easy to handle."

He also explained that, despite some of the high-profile scandals he has been involved in, he has been treated extremely well by the people of Ireland.

"They've been not only decent - they've been respectful," he observed. "They've taken the good and the bad of Ben Dunne.

"I can walk anywhere around Ireland, and 90 plus percent of the time people give me a slap on the back for the moves I made - good and bad."

You can listen back to the full interview via the podcast below.