An Irishman, who has been held in China since 2019, has said it is difficult to "explain to a five-year-old, now seven, that Daddy's not coming home".

Father-of-four Richard O'Halloran is appealing to Chinese authorities to let him return to Ireland.

He had travelled to China in February 2019 to resolve a dispute between his employer and Chinese authorities but has since been detained.

Mr O'Halloran works for the aircraft leasing company, China International Aviation Leasing Service (CALS Ireland).

CAL Ireland chairman Min Jiedong is in jail following allegations regarding the alleged defrauding of Chinese investors through a peer-to-peer and crowdfunding scheme to buy an aircraft.

Both schemes pre-date Mr O'Halloran's arrival at the company.

There are no allegations of wrongdoing against Mr O'Halloran.

In an interview with RTÉ's Prime Time, Mr O'Halloran said: "I'm a very hands-on father and literally within the blink of an eye that’s all gone.

"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."

He said there is no reason for him to be in China and should be allowed to return to Ireland to "continue running the Irish entity and returning money to China as I said I will do.

"I think it’s a lack of trust, a breakdown in communication somewhere. I think the judges presiding over the enforcement side of this particular case now are... struggling with the complexities as they perceive it for this transaction."

Mr O’Halloran said it is his hope that the Chinese authorities "see sense and see that the commercial solution that we are putting forward is the most viable way forward. It's the best solution for everybody."

In a statement earlier this week, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that it continues "to provide all possible consular support and assistance to Mr O'Halloran and attaches the utmost importance to his welfare".

In response to queries submitted by Prime Time, the Chinese Embassy in Ireland described O'Halloran as the "actual operator" of the aviation leasing company, CALS. It said the company owes around €50m in "illegally collected funds" to investors.

"Mr O'Halloran has not yet returned the illegally collected funds to the victims," an embassy spokesperson said in a written statement. "Mr O'Halloran's legal rights are fully guaranteed."

"In any country, company representatives have the legal obligation to return the proceeds of crime flowing into the company and related yields to the victims. Shanghai judicial authorities restrict Mr O'Halloran from leaving China by law to get back the related proceeds of crime and its yields."

"We fully understand Mr O'Halloran's family's anxiety and hope they will advise Mr O'Halloran to cooperate in a meaningful way with judicial authorities in Shanghai to ensure an early solution to the case."

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The full interview will be broadcast on Prime Time, at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.