Fitzgerald raises case of Dubliner prevented from leaving China with EU AuthoritiesPadraig Conlon 09 Feb 2021
Frances Fitzgerald has urged the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to intervene in the case of Dubliner Richard O’Halloran, who has been prevented from leaving China since February 2019.
O’Halloran, a married father of four from Foxrock, was prevented from leaving the country due to a dispute between his employers and the Chinese authorities, though no allegation has ever been levelled against him.
“Every effort must be made to bring Richard O’Halloran home urgently,” MEP Fitzgerald said.
“It has now been 2 years of anguish for him and his family.
“No allegation has ever been levelled against Mr. O’Halloran personally.
“The events under investigation took place a year before he joined the company.
“Given the recent EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and given the general increase in economic cooperation between the EU and China, it should be a major source of concern that an Irish and EU citizen is effectively being detained against their will for such a period.
“I am urging EU authorities to intervene in this case with the Chinese authorities where the response seems to be personally disproportionate against Mr. O’Halloran and is a serious source of concern to many citizens in Ireland,” concluded Ms. Fitzgerald.
Ms. Fitzgerald also wrote to the Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to China, Reinhard Butikofer, and to the Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, Ambassador Zhang Ming, in order to raise Mr. O’Halloran’s case and seek an urgent resolution to the issue.
Chinese authorities have rejected attempts by the Irish embassy to attend O’Halloran’s court hearings and police interrogations.
David Maughan, a partner at law firm William Fry who are representing O’Halloran, described his predicament as “fundamentally wrong on many levels”.
President Michael D. Higgins wrote to his counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping, over Christmas highlighting the issue and urging a prompt resolution.
Mr Xi’s reply, received at the end of last month, indicated that “the relevant authorities on both sides may maintain communication and co-ordination to create conditions for an early and proper solution to the case”.
A Change.Org petition, launched last July, calling on the Irish Government to intervene in Mr O Halloran’s case, has gathered 13,835 signatures.
“Richard O’Halloran is an innocent Irish citizen who has been kept against his will in China for 16 months,” a statement on the site reads
“We’re trying to bring him home to his wife and four children.
“This is a direct appeal to the Irish Government to intervene and get Richard home.
“Richard has been detained against his will for over 16 months now – his mental and physical health are in serious jeopardy now.
“The damage to Richard and his family is immeasurable.
“Richard is INNOCENT.
“Please sign this petition and support our urgent appeal.
“Enough is enough – no Irish citizen should be abandoned by their government.
“Its truly shocking.”
If anyone would like to sign the Change.Org petition please click on this link