Yeltsin stood up Reynolds in 1994

 


Former US president Bill Clinton wipes away tears of laughter in the company of Boris Yeltsin in New York in October 1995

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who died today, infamously stood up former taoiseach Albert Reynolds on the tarmac at Shannon airport in September 1994.

Mr Yeltsin was meant to meet Mr Reynolds in Dromoland Castle for a lavish reception, but that event had to be cancelled.

At the time, it was said the Mr Yeltsin had "overslept" on his aircraft. He was making a stopover at Shannon on his way back to Moscow from the United States but, as it turned out, it was more like a sleepover as he failed to emerge from his aircraft.

Mr Reynolds had to be content with meeting deputy prime minister Oleg Soskovets, who said the president was "asleep."

It was rumoured the vodka-loving Russian leader had over-indulged on the journey from Washington, but back in Moscow he said: "I feel excellent. I can tell you honestly, I just overslept."

Mr Yeltsin visited Ireland again last year - almost 12 years after the minor but embarrassing diplomatic incident that made news around the world - for a three-day private visit.

During the August visit, Mr Yeltsin travelled to the Cliffs of Moher and spent a morning shark fishing off the Clare coast, before travelling to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, for lunch. Although frail and requiring assistance alighting from the boat, he was in good spirits.