Former Irish prime minister Charles Haughey insisted he would not join a line to meet US President Ronald Reagan after his inauguration in 1981, state files reveal, according to the Irish Times.
A number of world leaders including the Israeli, Egyptian, British, German, Japanese and Canadian premiers were lining up to meet the 40th US president, reported the Irish Embassy to Dublin.
Haughey replied that he had a “reasonable interest” but said that he “doesn’t want to be in any queue” to meet Reagan.
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The prime minister was invited to several St. Patrick's Day events in the U.S. that year but he refused to go unless he could meet Reagan face-to face. He also said he would go if he could address the United Nations in New York, but the speech at the UN was ruled out.
Diplomatic contact continued with the White House, but the meeting with Reagan never happened.
In one missive back to Dublin, an Irish official reported that Reagan had seen a cutting, probably from the Irish Examiner, tracing the president's family tree to Ireland, reports the Irish Times.
A copy was ordered and a government spokesman, who had said in a news report that he could trace the president’s Irish roots, was asked to do so for possible use as a surprise gift should the prime minister visit to the US.
Talks were also held about Haughey possibly presenting the traditional bowl of shamrock to Reagan on St Patrick’s Day, as a way of getting a face-to-face encounter.
In February, the state department in Washington said Reagan was “in principle willing to receive the taoiseach” on March 17th.
However, US officials said their final response to the request remained uncertain and under consideration.
The possibility that Egyptian president Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat, who was assassinated later that year, would be in Washington around the same time was blamed for the uncertainty and Haughey did not go to the U.S.