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reunited Businessman Richard O’Halloran arrives home after being held in China against his will for three years

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Aviation executive Richard O'Halloran with his wife Tara

Aviation executive Richard O'Halloran with his wife Tara

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

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

Richard O'Halloran has been held against his will in China since February 2019. Photo: RTÉ Prime Time.

Richard O'Halloran has been held against his will in China since February 2019. Photo: RTÉ Prime Time.

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Aviation executive Richard O'Halloran with his wife Tara

Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran has arrived back in Ireland and is now being reunited with his family after almost three years.

Mr O’Halloran left Shanghai on a flight yesterday evening after a deal was struck between Irish and Chinese authorities, allowing him to finally return home.

A family spokesperson said that the family is “delighted” to finally be able to welcome the father-of-four home.

Mr O’Halloran, who was barred from leaving China because of a business dispute, arrived at Dublin Airport shortly after 8am this morning and is meeting his family for the first time since his ordeal began.

He is expected to go straight to the family home to rest.

The senior Irish aviation leasing executive, who lived with his wife Tara and four children in Foxrock in Dublin, has been trapped in China since travelling to Shanghai in February 2019.

He went there to try to resolve an ongoing commercial and legal issue involving the Chinese owner of the firm he works for, aircraft leasing company China International Aviation Leasing Service (CALS Ireland).

The company’s chairman, Min Jiedong, is serving a prison sentence in China for fundraising fraud.

Mr O’Halloran had been denied an exit from China until the issue was resolved.

Family friend and Cork lawyer, Michael Kingston, said he is “delighted” at the news of Mr O’Halloran’s release.

Mr Kingston had been helping the O’Halloran family behind the scenes, in an attempt to secure the release of Mr O’Halloran,

“I’m absolutely delighted that he’s able to return to his family. I’m pleased to have played my part in putting pressure on. But I think it’s wholly unacceptable that he should have been there for such a period and that this should have been sorted out many moons ago,” he said.

Mr Kingston and Mr O’Halloran studied together at University College Dublin, and he is godfather to Mr O’Halloran’s son Ben.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Government had been working on the matter for some time and wished Mr O'Halloran "a happy reunion with his family".

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A statement from Mr Coveney confirmed Mr O'Halloran will be allowed to leave China and return to Ireland after almost three years.

"This has been a difficult time for Mr O’Halloran and his family.

“The Government has been actively engaged on the matter throughout and is delighted it has reached a successful result,” he said.

"The minister wishes Mr O’Halloran a happy reunion with his family."

The statement acknowledged “the recent co-operation of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland and of the Chinese authorities”.

However, Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews, criticised the “tone of a statement” saying it made it appear as if the Chinese authorities were “blameless” in his prolonged detention over there.

He said: “There was no basis in law for his detention and I think we have to examine our relations with China.”

Mr Andrews 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.

Mr O’Halloran’s wife Tara, who remains in Dublin with the couple’s four children, aged between eight and 14-years-old, has campaigned tirelessly for his safe return home and previously told the Irish Independent how he had missed his children growing up, with his eldest son now a teenager.

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