Meeting with Robinson


CHILE:In March 1995 when the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson was on a State visit to Chile she met Pinochet and shook his hand.

The incident proved controversial as an RTÉ camera crew covering her trip to South America at the time had been ordered by the Chilean authorities to leave the room before the handshake - at her request.

Mrs Robinson said subsequently it was "with dismay" she discovered that the former Chilean dictator was present at the banquet held in her honour by the president of Chile.

"If you are a guest you greet other guests and so I greeted him," she said.

Asked how she felt about shaking his hand, she replied: "I cannot express any personal view".

Later in an interview with RTÉ in April 1995 she said: "People should understand that ... I am not an individual. I am the President of Ireland. I was the guest of President Frei [the democratically elected president of Chile] just as Pinochet was. I had no expectation that I was going to meet Pinochet, and it was with great dismay that I saw that he was attending the dinner. . . I did not show any pleasure in meeting him," she said.