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Labour's Andy Burnham backs comprehensive school system for Northern Ireland

Published 18/08/2015

Andy Burnham stressed his support for comprehensive education
Andy Burnham stressed his support for comprehensive education

Andy Burnham has pledged to oppose academic selection in Northern Ireland.

The Labour leadership contender said he believed in a truly comprehensive system.

A Sinn Fein education minister issued guidance officially scrapping the 11 plus transfer test but many grammar schools in Northern Ireland still use alternative exam results to choose pupils.

Mr Burnham said: "I also believe in a truly comprehensive education system with opportunity for every child that isn't determined by the postcode of the bed they are born in.

"The continued existence of selective education in Northern Ireland is opposed by the Labour Party in Northern Ireland and, as leader, they will have my full support in campaigning against it."

He has called for a review of the ban on sexually active gay men from donating blood to the NHS.

The MP wrote in the Belfast Telegraph: "The whole area of sexual and gender rights in Northern Ireland needs to take a major step forward.

"I know Labour Party members are at the forefront of the campaigning in the province and again they have my support.

"I have been highly critical in Parliament of Jeremy Hunt for his refusal to support equality across the UK in respect of blood donation from gay men and, as leader, I will use every opportunity to press the Tory Government on these fundamental issues of equality and rights."

He said members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland should have the right to decide when and where they want to stand candidates in elections.

"If those members decide that at election time the people of Northern Ireland need a socialist, non-sectarian party to vote for, a party that can appeal to people of all classes and to people of all faiths or none, then we should not stand in their way.

"If elected leader, I will support an immediate review of the current prohibition on Labour Party candidates and will seek the views of the Irish Labour Party and others, as to how best we can assist the very many Labour Party members and supporters in Northern Ireland."

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