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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Bush filmed in underwear
By Mark Simpson
BBC Ireland correspondent at Dromoland Castle

When the US president arranged a visit to Ireland in an election year he wanted to make sure the folks back home could see him - but not dressed in a vest.

George W Bush
Bush was apparently checking the Irish weather when he was snapped
And that is why there was a wave of international censorship after George W Bush appeared at the window of an Irish castle wearing a white undergarment, rather than his traditional shirt and tie.

It may have been bedtime, but the president was wide awake to the potential public relations dangers.

After spotting the camera, he quickly backtracked, and allowed one of his aides to open the bedroom window instead.

'Best vest man'

It was too late. The cameraman had got the shot - George W Bush as you have never seen him before, in a vest, about to go to bed, at Dromoland Castle in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland.

Rather than being known as "America's best dressed man," he could now be labelled "America's best vest man".

These pictures are the property of the Irish presidency and must not be used for transmission by any service

The person behind the lens was not a member of the paparazzi, it was the host broadcaster - and that meant the pictures were shared with media outlets around the world.

The feeding frenzy did not last long. Within minutes, broadcasters were being ordered not to use the pictures, even though they were the most original images of the day.

A hastily written memo was delivered to all broadcasters, including the BBC.

"These pictures are the property of the Irish presidency and must not be used for transmission by any service," it said.

Just in case anyone was thinking of ignoring the instruction, it was written in bold, with capital letters and underlined.

It was too late for some broadcasters, who had excitedly rushed to air with the pictures of the blushing Mr Bush.

The authorities were not amused, and apparently made their feelings known to the cameraman involved.

"He'll probably be sent to Guantanamo Bay now," joked a fellow cameraman.

Cool welcome

The atmosphere surrounding this visit is very different to previous presidential trips to Ireland.

Everything has been done with military precision, with no time for pressing the flesh and meeting the Irish people.

Flags fly over Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland, as an army officer watches the surrounding countryside.
Tight security surrounds Bush's trip
It was not like this when Bill Clinton used to come here: he always made a point of arriving early and leaving late.

With an estimated 40 million Irish Americans in the US, the journey from the White House to the Emerald Isle is a well-worn path.

Back in the 1960s, John F Kennedy, was welcomed with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved for a pop star.

The receptions for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were less exuberant, but warm nonetheless.

The welcome for Mr Bush has been cooler, which, I suppose, makes his appearance in public wearing only a vest all the more surprising.

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