Businessman Ulick McEvaddy has explained that it was through his son’s school that he became involved in the campaign to have Irish man Richard O’Halloran released from house arrest in Shanghai.
“He was there almost two years before I knew (of the case)”, Mr McEvaddy told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
Both men’s sons go to the same school and when he became aware of the case Mr McEvaddy telephoned Mr O’Halloran to ask how he could help.
“He said join the board,” so Mr Evaddy did so.
“It was all about confidence building with the Chinese. All the heavy lifting was done by Richard himself.”
Mr McEvaddy said that the agreement that was finally agreed with the Chinese had been changed five times, but ultimately “he was delivering the same deal as three years ago.
“They got nothing more than what they were offered on day one.”
There was a lack of understanding on the part of the Chinese that there was a robust corporate law in Ireland that would protect their assets, added Mr McEvaddy.
“The Chinese will not be bullied, we were not going to bully them into letting him go. Richard convinced the judges.
“I’m glad I was able to help, that someone was going to stand up for his rights. It was a terrible ordeal for him to be deprived of his family for three years.”
There were lessons to be learned in the future for any dispute resolution for Irish citizens abroad. Mr McEvaddy said he would not go to China for any dispute resolution.
The Department of Foreign Affairs did do a lot behind the scenes because they could not do it in public, he said.
“Simon Coveney flew out to meet Chinese officials in China on one occasion. There were other interventions.”
Mr McEvaddy pointed out that both the President Michael D Higgins and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin had written to their counterparts in China.
China was the guilty party on this occasion, not Richard O’Halloran, he said. China had a lesson to learn, that they should trust the corporate laws of other countries to protect their assets.