UK unveils timetable for securing inquiry into Ballymena barracks

Scotland’s First Minister seeks all-party talks as she says path to final verdict ‘now clearer’

The UK’s crisis management on its handling of the attack at Ballymena barracks – in Northern Ireland – emerged with a muddle on Sunday night, amid criticism from politicians both in and outside the UK government.

Downing Street earlier confirmed that part of the UK will remain in lockdown until Tuesday, after 23 live fire exercises were held in Northern Ireland on Thursday as part of UK terror counter-terrorism training.

Parts of Northern Ireland and England were put into lock down due to the exercise.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for “an all-party process” following claims that soldiers loyal to the ruling British Conservative party sat on top of Union Jack flags during the lockdown on Thursday.

Government officials have previously insisted no Liberal Democrat flags were raised during the lockdown and no Labour flags were allowed to fly. Scotland’s Nationalist First Minister said it was now clear the “government routes in and out of Ballymena were closed down entirely during the lockdown by both Conservative MPs and SLUC officers from the Ministry of Defence”.

In response, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson last night tweeted: “Myself and @waitrose gathered & held hands in solidarity with the British Army & Northern Ireland community last night after these reports and I did so because I believe it is wrong for troops to sit on Union Jack flags during operations.”

This morning, a Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister had “considered the ideas” Sturgeon presented for an all-party solution to the issue, adding that a separate meeting between officials from the UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland was planned for Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn challenged Theresa May to call an all-party meeting “straight away” to resolve the issue.

Scottish Labour’s Andy Kerr and Dundee East MP Stephen Gethins also called for “an immediate meeting to find a way forward to resolve the military incident”.

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