Back in 1993 the journalist Fionnuala O'Connor wrote In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland. One of the Roman Catholics she interviewed was John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, and the conversation came round to the subject of academic selection (pp 23,24). O'Connor summarised the case against academic selection, describing it as 'socially divisive' and stating that it 'unfairly favoured children from more literate, middle-class homes'. She then continued
Hume still will not have that. 'There's no education system in the world that'll put brains into someone who hasn't got them,' he says. 'Selection means that people of ability, no matter what their social level, can break through.'
I can't remember when the SDLP changed its stance but there you are - John Hume, a founding father and long-time leader of the SDLP supported academic selection.