Ben Dunne has passed away while on holiday in Dubai. Born on March 11, 1949, in Cork County, Ireland, Dunne was a key figure in the expansion of the family-founded Dunnes Stores grocery chain. His father, Ben Sr., introduced him to the corporate world, and under his leadership, the business experienced significant growth.
However, Dunne’s career was not without its challenges. He became embroiled in controversy due to payments he made to two high-profile politicians, former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry. This scandal ultimately led to his departure from the family business. Despite this setback, Dunne demonstrated resilience by entering the fitness industry and establishing a successful gym chain.
Dunne’s life was marked by a harrowing incident in 1981 when he was abducted by the IRA while traveling to a company store in Newry. A ransom of IR£1.5 million was reportedly paid for his release, with Charles Haughey allegedly facilitating the payment to Patrick Gallagher, a businessman and friend of Dunne.
In his personal life, Ben Dunne was married to Mary, and they had four children: three sons, Robert, Nicholas, and Mark, and a daughter, Caroline. His sister Margaret now leads one of Ireland’s wealthiest family businesses as the sole surviving member of the family. Dunne also faced personal tragedies with the sudden deaths of his siblings—Elizabeth from a heart attack in 1993 and Therese two years later.
Known for his athletic abilities and larger-than-life personality, Dunne was an avid golfer and hunter. Despite a rift with his sister Margaret over an investigation into the business accounts he used for political payments, the siblings reconciled after settling a legal dispute in October 1994, reflecting the deep affection they held for each other.
The Department of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the death of an Irish citizen in Dubai but did not provide further comments. Dunne’s passing has left his family, friends, and the business community in mourning, remembering him as a prominent figure who experienced both controversy and success throughout his career.