FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney has confirmed that he raised the case of detained Irishman Richard O’Halloran during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
Coveney met China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the city of Guiyang yesterday, in a bilateral summit that took place as part of Ireland’s two-year membership of the United Nations Security Council.
Coveney told The Journal that Richard O’Halloran’s case is a “big priority” but could not go into specifics about the nature of the discussion.
O’Halloran travelled to China in February 2019 in an attempt to resolve an ongoing commercial and legal issue involving the Chinese owner of the firm he works for – Dublin-based aircraft leasing company China International Aviation Leasing Service.
Chinese authorities have refused to let the Dublin man leave the country.
O’Halloran’s sister, Jessica McCormack, criticised the Minister earlier today for not already travelling to China in an effort to secure her brother’s release, saying he had “abandoned” her brother.
I cannot fathom how has not travelled to meet Wang Yi already to specifically discuss RICHARD OHALLORAN’S release. How can you have abandoned my brother and hence all Irish citizens so badly? This is a travesty. A family ruined
— Jessica McCormack (@Jessicaohmcc)
However Minister Coveney told The Journal that he did discuss the status of O’Halloran with Minister Wang.
“Of course we raised the case of Richard O’Halloran. I think it’s not helpful in terms of getting the outcome we’re looking for, for me to talk publicly about that for now,” he said.
I can assure you that’s a big priority for me.
Ahead of the meeting a spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairsa “wide range of multilateral issues including the situation in Myanmar and the Middle East peace process, as well key bilateral issues”.
Ireland is the co-chair of UN Security Council working groups on climate and security; hunger and conflict; and women, peace and security, which Coveney also raised during the meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
Minister Wang said China-Ireland relations have “maintained sound and steady growth, and become more mature”.
“The most important experience is that, despite their difference in history, culture, social system, China and Ireland respect each other’s choice of development path, tolerate each other’s differences, strengthen mutual trust, and expand common ground, contributing to bilateral cooperation and world peace and stability,” he added in a statement.
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The statement also noted that Ireland is one of the few EU member states that has maintained a trade surplus with China for over 10 years. It did not mention the O’Halloran case.
With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha