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release campaign Senator vows to do ‘absolutely everything’ to bring home Irishman held for two years in China

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The O’Halloran family in happier times with Isabella, Tara, Ben, Scarlett, Richard and Amber all together.

The O’Halloran family in happier times with Isabella, Tara, Ben, Scarlett, Richard and Amber all together.

The O’Halloran family in happier times with Isabella, Tara, Ben, Scarlett, Richard and Amber all together.

The leader of the Seanad has vowed to do “absolutely everything” to bring home Irishman Richard O’Halloran, who has been held in China for almost two years.

Mr O’Halloran, a senior aviation executive, has been involved in a complex legal case in China and has been barred from leaving the country.

His wife, Tara O’Halloran, has campaigned for his release for months, desperately pleading for the Government’s support in bringing him home to his four children.

Mr O’Halloran, who has underlying lung issues and has spent most of his time in his hotel for fear of contracting the coronavirus, has now been told that he must pay $36m to the Chinese authorities before he can leave the country.

Leader of the Seanad, Regina Doherty, today vowed that his case will be debated in the Seanad in the coming weeks with a view to doing “absolutely everything we can” to get him back to Ireland.

“I will absolutely have no issue in debating or scheduling a debate in the next number of weeks,” she told Senator Michael McDowell, who raised the issue.

“I think you have unanimous support in this house, in any house in Ireland for the absolute safe return of Richard O’Halloran to his wife and his children.

“I can’t begin to imagine the difficulty that they have gone through in the last number of years.

“We need to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that we get him home,” she added.

Senator McDowell said that he was intending to put forward a motion to debate Mr O’Halloran’s case.

However, he was contacted by Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, and asked to not debate the issue as it is “at a delicate stage of negotiation”.

He said that he is giving the “benefit of the doubt” to the Department and not debating the issue today.

Mr McDowell said that no Chinese citizen would be treated in Ireland like Mr O’Halloran has been treated in China.

“The comparative size of our two countries does not justify wolf diplomacy being deployed against Ireland to try to blackmail this man into doing something unlawful,” he said.

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