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'He's lost all hope': Family of Dublin man banned from leaving China calls for urgent action

The family of a Dublin man who has been banned from leaving China since February 2019 is calling ...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

16.35 9 Dec 2020


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'He's lost all hope': Family o...

'He's lost all hope': Family of Dublin man banned from leaving China calls for urgent action

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

16.35 9 Dec 2020


Share this article


The family of a Dublin man who has been banned from leaving China since February 2019 is calling on the Irish Government to take urgent action.

Richard O'Halloran has been subjected to an exit ban from leaving the country for almost two years.

The 45-year-old from Foxrock was employed as an aviation leasing executive when the company he worked for ran into difficulty with the Chinese authorities.

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The father of four travelled to Shanghai to meet with shareholders last year and was detained at the airport when attempting to fly home to Ireland.

He was initially given a 90-day exit ban and was left without legal representation to assist him in coming home.

His wife Lorraine told Lunchtime Live said Richard is very isolated in Shanghai and has "effectively been stuck for 20 months in a lockdown".

She said: "It's been horrific for him, it's taken a huge mental toll and he's very low."

Lorraine said it has been a "terrible, terrible time" as her mother passed away early this year and COVID-19 hit.

She said it was during lockdown that she realised what her husband had been going through "on his own, stuck in a room for two years".

She added that the case involving the company is "effectively over" as the chairman has been sentenced to ten years in jail.

Richard is not involved in the case and was not working at the company when the illegalities are said to have occurred.

Lorraine said Richard complied with all requests from the judge but he has still not been permitted to leave China.

She added that he cannot do what the Chinese authorities have requested which is to return an asset owned by the company, that being an aircraft.

As a leasing executive and not the owner of the aeroplane he can't do that and he has been "left on his own" by the company to deal with it.

'He's lost all hope': Family of Dublin man banned from leaving China calls for urgent action

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She said: "We actually don't know what they want from Richard at this stage, they're holding him illegally and we don't have any point of contact in China.

"We have no one to liaise with so we need the Government to liaise with the authorities over there because we have no way to reach them or to find out what they want from him.

"The Government keep saying this is a very complex case and its a legal issue but it's not, Richard has done nothing wrong, he's done everything to comply with what they've asked."

She added that the only time the family gets information is when the Chinese ambassador makes a comment to a newspaper.

Christmas

Lorraine fears that this will "go on for years" because the "Government is not intervening".

She said: "I'm just doing everything I can to get him home, because we don't know what to do.

"I'm trying to keep the house normal for the kids, to get ready for Christmas which they don't want to do and I don't want to do because we don't want to do it without Richard here.

"They're so worried about him being alone on Christmas day, it's very difficult and they're devastated and because none of us can get to grips with it or understand it but its the second Christmas that they're going to have to spend without him.

"We need to get him home, he's very unwell, he's at his wits' end, he's lost all hope and were desperately worried about him.

She said their children, who are aged between seven and 13 are "really struggling".

Additionally, Richard is immunocompromised as he has a lung condition which has caused him to have multiple lung collapses and open lung surgery in the past.

She said the lack of available medical consultants to care for Richard's condition is "a huge concern" paired with the poor air quality in Shanghai.

He recently collapsed and had two seizures which led him to go into cardiac arrest in hospital, which "almost killed him".

Lorraine said she thought that would have been enough to convince the authorities to get him home but "they didn't seem to bat an eyelid".

She added: "I don't know what it's going to take to make [the Irish authorities] take action at this stage.

"I desperately need them to engage with the Irish authorities at this stage and demand that he is released.

"He's so unwell, his mental health is so bad, I just don't know how much more it would take to get them to do something.

"He almost died and they're still not showing any urgency."

Main image: Shanghai, China. Photo: Zhang Jiansong/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

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