TAOISEACH Enda Kenny got diplomatic support from the Russians last night -- and they even claimed there is proof Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin spoke English with an Irish accent.
It provided crucial cover for Mr Kenny after he was forced to withdraw his claim that Michael Collins brought Lenin to Ireland.
The Russian embassy said it had "no problem" with the mistake Mr Kenny made in his Beal na mBlath speech last weekend to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Collins' death.
And the embassy provided evidence to back up the famous story about how Lenin spoke English with an Irish accent.
A Russian embassy spokesman said that Lenin had visited London several times -- and had hired an Irish tutor to teach him to speak English.
"Lenin said that his tutor in English was an Irishman and that was why he was speaking with an Irish accent," he said.
The embassy said this had been documented in an article written by 'War of the Worlds' author HG Wells, who met Lenin in Moscow in 1920 and noticed his Irish accent.
James Connolly's son Roddy Connolly, who met Lenin in St Petersburg that same year, was even more specific. He said Lenin had a "Rathmines" accent -- but the name and birthplace of his Irish tutor is unknown.
The Russian embassy spokesman said it was most likely that Lenin had chosen an Irish tutor in London because he was less expensive than an English tutor. And in another welcome distraction, the embassy confirmed that another famous Russian leader had definitely visited Ireland.
It said that Peter the Great had visited the North in the 18th Century -- and had paid a visit to the Bushmills distillery for his first taste of whiskey.
He wrote a letter about his experience: "Visited Ireland and tasted one of the most tasteful wine (sic) I ever tasted."
The Department of the Taoiseach has been unable to back up the claim in Mr Kenny's corrected speech that Lenin knew about how Collins managed the National Loan to raise funds for the new Irish Republic.
The only reference to Lenin's knowledge of the National Loan is on the General Michael Collins website. It is run by the "Collins 22 society".
The society's spokesman Bill Martin said the Lenin reference was based on "general knowledge". And he pointed out that it was not the first time there had been controversy about a Russian leader arriving in Ireland. "Remember Boris Yeltsin in Shannon Airport in 1994? We don't know if he came or if he didn't," he said.
The late Mr Yeltsin's daughter maintained that he did not disembark from the plane because he had suffered a heart attack -- and not because he was drunk.
The Russian embassy spokesman said that Lenin "might" have known of the National Loan. But he said he was sure that Lenin knew who Collins was -- because Russia had been the first country to recognise the new Irish Republic.
But he acknowledged that that Collins and Lenin were "not very close" politically.
"I never heard that Michael Collins was much in favour of a dictatorship of the proletariat and a world revolution," he said.
Trinity College Professor of Contemporary Irish History Eunan O hAlpin said the Irish government sent delegate Dr Pat McCartan to Moscow in 1920 to meet Lenin's government.
"It was pretty farcical. It took him weeks to even to get to meet the doorman," he said.