MEDIA BOSS BEHIND PM ULSTER BID; He Set Up Fund-Raising Summit

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN SMITH

CONTROVERSIAL former newspaper boss David Montgomery was behind the secret Ulster fund-raiser attended by Tony Blair.

Ulster-born Montgomery set up the meeting of businessmen, revealed yesterday in the Record, to appeal for financial support for moderate political parties in the province.

The summit sparked controversy because the fund-raising drive excluded the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein and hardline Unionists, such as Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party.

The meeting at London's Claridge's Hotel was attended by David Trimble, the Northern Ireland First Minister and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Mark Durkan, the Deputy First Minister and leader of the nationalist SDLP.

Downing Street, the UUP and the SDLP yesterday insisted the meeting was confidential.

But it emerged it was organised by Montgomery, under the title Campaign for Peace and Democratic Reconstruction.

Sources close to the campaign last night denied it was a direct appeal for funding and claimed it was about "educating" businessmen.

But businessmen who attended the event were given the clear impression they were being asked to contribute cash to the mainstream Ulster parties. …