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Richard O’Halloran celebrates a “great day of emotion” on his return from China

Irishman Richard O’Halloran, who was barred from leaving China for nearly three years, recounted his “day of great happiness and emotion” as he celebrated his long-awaited return to his family.

Mr O’Halloran, 46, was working for a Dublin-based aircraft rental company when it became embroiled in a legal dispute with Chinese authorities who later barred him from leaving the country.

After being unable to see his family for almost three years, the father-of-four is now at home in Dublin and reunited with his wife and children as he thanked the ‘key people who played a central role in obtaining this positive result”.

The family took to Twitter to document their homecoming, showing Mr O’Halloran hugged by his wife Tara, surrounded by his three daughters and a son.

Mr O’Halloran said in a statement: ‘On my return to Ireland, I am making this statement in response to the overwhelmingly positive number of messages received by my family and myself, as it became clear yesterday that my exit ban has been lifted.

“It is a day of great happiness and emotion as I join Tara, Ben, Amber, Isabella and Scarlett after three years.

“It is also important that I take this opportunity to thank and express my sincere appreciation and that of my family for the incredible support we have received over the past three years.”

Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said his department had been working to ensure Mr O’Halloran’s safe return.

The minister visited China last year in a bid to secure his release from travel restrictions.

Mr Coveney said he was “pleased” to confirm restrictions on the Irishman have been lifted, allowing him to return home.

Mr O’Halloran described Mr Coveney as a ‘key figure in reaching a solution’ as the Minister ‘has invested tremendous effort over a long period of time’.

He also thanked his wider friends and family for signing petitions, writing letters and staying active on social media, as well as Irish President Michael D Higgins who wrote to his counterpart in China, and a number of politicians at national and European level who were “so supportive”.

After acknowledging the help of his parents, his brother David and his colleagues, he praised his children and the “incredible feat” that was his wife.

“It’s been an incredible challenge for them too and they’ve endured many dark days,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“But they have always been a beacon of light and hope for me and the hundreds of Messenger calls we have had have helped me stay positive. Tara was an incredible feat and kept the show going.

“I’m home with them now and we’re all looking forward to getting to know each other again and doing normal, everyday family things.”

Ms O’Halloran tweeted on Saturday: ‘Thank you all for all your support.

“We are incredibly happy to have him back.”

The tweet has over 9,000 likes.

A statement from the Foreign Office said: ‘This has been a difficult time for Mr O’Halloran and his family.

“The government has been actively engaged on the issue throughout and is delighted to have achieved a positive outcome.

“The Minister wishes to acknowledge the recent cooperation of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland and the Chinese authorities, and to thank all those who have contributed to the achievement of this positive outcome.

“The Minister wishes Mr. O’Halloran a happy reunion with his family.”

Mr Coveney tweeted: “Very good news, after several months of work. Thanks to everyone who helped.

“I wish Richard and his family well after three traumatic years and hope that their privacy will be respected when he returns home.”


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