Distraught Irish father being held in China against his will makes TV appeal
Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran who is being held in China against his will has said it is ‘very difficult’ to explain to his seven-year-old daughter why he hasn’t been home in two years.© Provided by Extra.ie
Mr O’Halloran has been kept in China since February 2019, when he arrived in the country to resolve a business dispute for his employer, a Chinese aircraft leasing company with an office in Dublin.
In an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time, which will air Thursday night, the father of four from Foxrock, south Dublin, appealed to Chinese authorities to let him go home to his family.© Provided by Extra.ie Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran is being held in China against his will. Pic: Prime Time on RTÉ One
‘I’m a very hands-on father and literally within the blink of an eye, that’s all gone,’ he said.
‘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.’
Mr O’Halloran worked in the Dublin office of China International Aviation Leasing Service (CIALS) which was embroiled in scandal in China after the company’s owner Jiedong Min was arrested for fraud.© Provided by Extra.ie Richard O’Halloran’s wife Tara with children Amber, Scarlett, Isabella and Ben. Pic: Fran Veale
After Min’s arrest, Mr O’Halloran travelled to Shanghai to meet with investors and assess the extent of the problem.
Min was eventually jailed by a Chinese court.
The legal issues being faced by the firm in China are unrelated to its Dublin-based employees.© Provided by Extra.ie RTE journalist Yvonne Murray interviews Richard O’Halloran in China. Pic: Prime Time on RTÉ One
Mr O’Halloran was due to leave after a week in Shanghai, but he was arrested at the airport as he was about to board a flight home to Dublin. China’s Public Security Bureau questioned him several times and he was banned from leaving China.
Mr O’Halloran insisted he never had anything to with investors’ money, but the Chinese court is demanding that he surrender company assets, which includes an Airbus plane leased to the Finnish state airline Finnair.
However, Mr O’Halloran has no legal control over the plane, which is held by another subsidiary, and said he is being held personally responsible for more than €6million owed by the firm.© Provided by Extra.ie Richard O’Halloran has said it is ‘very difficult’ to explain to his seven-year-old daughter why he hasn’t been home in two years. Pic: The O’Halloran Family
In the interview, Mr O’Halloran said there is no reason for him to be stuck in China separated from his wife Tara and four children Ben, 13, Amber, 11, nine-year-old Isabella and seven-year-old Scarlett. He said: ‘I should be allowed to return home to continue running the Irish entity [of the company] and returning money to China as I said I will do. I think it’s a lack of trust, a breakdown in communication somewhere.’© Provided by Extra.ie In the interview, Irish businessman Richard O’Halloran said there is no reason for him to be stuck in China separated from his wife Tara and four children. Pic: Prime Time on RTÉ One
Mr O’Halloran said he hopes the Chinese authorities ‘see sense’ and that the commercial solution being putting forward by the company ‘is the most viable way forward’. ‘It’s the best solution for everybody,’ he said.
The interview comes after Mr O’Halloran’s family pleaded with the Irish Government to send a representative to Shanghai to resolve the situation. While the case is ongoing, Mr O’Halloran is allowed to travel around China, but his passport has been confiscated so he can’t leave. He was recently moved from an apartment in Shanghai to a hotel to protect his health after he suffered seizures and chronic lung problems.
Last week, lawyers for Mr O’Halloran in Ireland sent a letter to the Chinese embassy in Dublin, claiming his fundamental rights are being breached.