Richard O'Halloran has flown out of Shanghai airport in China and it is understood that he will arrive in Ireland tomorrow.

Earlier today, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Irishman - who had been prevented from leaving China for some time - was able to travel back to Ireland.

"His family is delighted with the news and is looking forward to Richard's return home," said a spokesperson for the family.

He also said Mr O'Halloran appears to be in good health.

The Taoiseach said he "warmly welcomed" the returning home of Mr O'Halloran.

"I acknowledge the work of the many people in Ireland and in China who have helped make this day happen," he said in a post on Twitter.

"It has been a very difficult journey for him and his family. Thinking of them today."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that the Government had been working on the matter for some time and wished Mr O'Halloran "a happy reunion with his family".

In a statement, Mr Coveney also acknowledged the Chinese Embassy in Ireland and Chinese authorities for their assistance.

Mr O'Halloran was a director at CALS Ireland (China International Aviation Leasing Service) - an aircraft leasing firm based in Dublin.

The company had been in dispute with the Chinese authorities, who had blocked Mr O'Halloran from leaving China for almost three years.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences


Read more
'This could go on and on and on' - Irishman held in China


It is understood that Mr O'Halloran is in good spirits and is expected to leave China later today.

His family are said to be delighted to be welcoming him home.

Fianna Fáil MEP for Dublin, Barry Andrews, who was involved in the campaign for Mr O'Halloran’s release, said news of his departure from China was "amazing".

He told RTÉ’s Drivetime that the Irishman's four children have been denied their father for the last three years, and his mother, who is in her eighties, did not know if she would ever see her son again.

"So it’s just an enormous relief on a human basis that he’s on his way home to his family," he said.

Mr Andrews said he was surprised at the tone of the statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs this afternoon thanking the Chinese authorities "as though they were passive observers in what’s been going on for the last three years and as though they were completely blameless".

Ireland needs to examine its relationship with China, he added.

The MEP said Mr O’Halloran’s family were "very frustrated" at a lack of communication and he was "puzzled" as to why the Department did not engage the support of the European External Action Service.

Senator Michael McDowell, who was also among those campaigning for the aviation worker's release, said his return was "great news for Richard, Tara and their children. This is his third year of separation from his family, a wholly unjust and cruel detention of an Irish citizen in China".

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences