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amazing Irish dad Richard O’Halloran trapped in China for three years is on his way home

'I want to wish Richard and his family well following a traumatic 3 years'

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Richard O'Halloran. Photo RTÉ Prime Time.

Richard O'Halloran. Photo RTÉ Prime Time.

Richard O'Halloran. Photo RTÉ Prime Time.

Irishman Richard O’Halloran, who was banned from leaving China for almost three years, is on his way home. 

The Dublin dad has finally been given permission to return home to his wife and four kids, it has been reported.

Richard, from Foxrock, had travelled to China in 2019 to resolve a dispute between his employer and Chinese authorities but was detained and held.

Mr O'Halloran works for the aircraft leasing company, China International Aviation Leasing Service (CALS Ireland).

The Dubliner has not been accused of any wrongdoing and had assisted the Chinese in their prosecution of Min Jiedong, the owner of the Dublin firm.

However, when he attempted to leave the country in February 2019 after testifying against Min, he was stopped by Chinese police and told that an exit ban was placed on his passport.

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Richard Tara, Ben, Amber, Isabella and Scarlett O'Halloran. Credit: Tara O'Halloran

Richard Tara, Ben, Amber, Isabella and Scarlett O'Halloran. Credit: Tara O'Halloran

Richard Tara, Ben, Amber, Isabella and Scarlett O'Halloran. Credit: Tara O'Halloran

The situation changed when a deal was brokered between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Chinese authorities, and also between Richard and his company, The Irish Times reports.

The Irish Foreign Ministry tweeted this evening: "The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, is pleased to confirm that the travel restrictions placed on Mr Richard O’Halloran in China have now been lifted, enabling him to return home to Ireland."

The Minister added: "Very good news, after many months of work. Thank you to everyone who assisted. I want to wish Richard and his family well following a traumatic 3 years and hope that their privacy will be respected on his return home.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time last year Mr O'Halloran told journalist Yvonne Murray that: “It's very difficult to explain to a five-year-old, now seven, that Daddy's not coming home.

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“I’m a very hands-on father and literally within the blink of an eye that’s all gone. It’s very difficult for me to process but for the children it's devastating. It's very difficult to explain to a five-year-old, now seven, that Daddy's not coming home for your birthday, your communion, your confirmation or Christmas.

“There is no reason for me to be stuck here,” he added. “I should be allowed to return home to continue running the Irish entity and returning money to China as I said I will do.

“I think it’s a lack of trust, a breakdown in communication somewhere. I think the judges presiding over the enforcement side of this particular case now are... struggling with the complexities as they perceive it for this transaction.”

He continued: “My hope is that the Chinese authorities see sense and see that the commercial solution that we are putting forward is the most viable way forward. It’s the best solution for everybody.”

"His family is delighted with the news and is looking forward to Richard's return home," a spokesperson for the family has been quoted as saying.

He also said Mr O'Halloran appears to be in good health.

The Taoiseach said he "warmly welcomed" the returning home of Mr O'Halloran.

"I acknowledge the work of the many people in Ireland and in China who have helped make this day happen," he said in a post on Twitter.

"It has been a very difficult journey for him and his family. Thinking of them today."

Fianna Fáil MEP for Dublin, Barry Andrews, who was involved in the campaign for Mr O'Halloran’s release, said news of his departure from China was "amazing".

He told RTÉ’s Drivetime that the Irishman's four children have been denied their father for the last three years, and his mother, who is in her eighties, did not know if she would ever see her son again.

"So it’s just an enormous relief on a human basis that he’s on his way home to his family," he said.

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