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DUP desperate to keep selection: Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of wanting to retain academic selection “at any cost” — including falling standards of achievement in the Protestant community.

The party said First Minister Peter Robinson could not hide the fact that academic selection “has most failed the community he claims to represent”.

The attack came after Mr Robinson last week warned Education Minister Caitriona Ruane could face legal action under the Ministerial Code if she ignored an Assembly motion containing an agreed direction.

Motions in the past, he said, had not included “a clear decision in it. It is not sufficient to urge Ministers to do something, it needs to be a decision”.

The DUP leader also told the Belfast Telegraph his party would not sit down to negotiate with a party which insisted there would be no change.

Responding, Sinn Fein education spokesman John O Dowd argued: “The DUP leaders’ assertion that the DUP are genuinely up for talks on academic selection does not hold up to scrutiny.

“The DUP brought academic selection to the talks table at St Andrews in 2007 and have been seeking to delay its ending ever since.

“To date the DUP have not publicly acknowledged on whose behalf such a demand was made. The evidence shows it certainly was not on behalf of the thousand of working class Protestant children turned away from grammar schools every year.”

The Sinn Fein counter-charge came as the special group formed in the Assembly on transfer, which includes DUP, SDLP, Ulster Unionist and Alliance representatives, was today due to hold its latest meeting and finalise an agreed statement.

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