In the last thirty years, John Alderdice has been involved in almost every aspect of the Irish Peace Process. As Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland from October 1987, he played a significant role in all the talks between the political parties and the British and Irish Governments on the resolution of the historic conflict in Ireland through to the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He then retired as Alliance Leader and became the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly, leading the establishment of the new legislature. He retired as Speaker in 2004 on his appointment to the Independent Monitoring Commission, tasked by the British and Irish Governments with closing down terrorist operations and overseeing normalization of security activity in Northern Ireland. More recently the First, Deputy First and Justice Ministers of Northern Ireland invited him to work with two colleagues to develop a new strategy to bring an end to the remaining paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland. He also established the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building in Belfast to work on the cultural and attitudinal changes that will complete the Irish Peace Process.
Lord Alderdice has also been committed to liberal politics outside Northern Ireland. From 1995 to 2003 he was Treasurer and then Vice-President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. From 2000 until 2009 he was Deputy President and then President of Liberal International (the world-wide network of more than 100 liberal political parties) and is now a life-time Presidente D’Honneur of Liberal International. In 1996 his contribution to liberal politics at home and abroad was recognized when he was appointed one of the youngest ever life members of the House of Lords, the Upper Chamber of the Westminster Parliament. From 2010 to 2014 he was the elected the Chairman (Convenor) of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Lords. In August 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron appointed him to the UK Committee on Standards in Public Life, reappointing him for a further term in 2013. After the 2015 Westminster Election, the Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron MP appointed him Liberal Democrat Party Spokesman on Northern Ireland, but he retired from that role in late 2016 in order to carry out an Independent Review on Culture, Race and Ethnicity within the Liberal Democrats. This is expected to be completed later in 2017.
Lord Alderdice’s professional background is as a clinical and academic physician and psychiatrist. He was a consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy in Belfast and senior lecturer in psychotherapy at The Queen’s University of Belfast (UK) from 1998 to 2010. He has also been a Visiting Professor, at the Department of Psychiatry and Co-Chairman of the Critical Incidents Analysis Group, at the University of Virginia (USA), and he is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
Lord Alderdice’s main focus now is as Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) based at Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford where he concentrates, with colleagues in the Department of Politics and International Relations and the School of Anthropology, on analysing, understanding and engaging with the problems of religious fundamentalism, political radicalization and violent community conflict, including the intractable difficulties between First Nation populations and incoming people.
Lord Alderdice’s work has been recognized with many national and international awards including the International Psychoanalytic Association Award for Extraordinarily Meritorious Service to Psychoanalysis, the World Federation of Scientists Prize for the application of Science to the cause of Peace, Honorary Doctorates, Fellowships and Awards from the University of East London, Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen), the Open University of the United Kingdom, San Marcos University, Lima (Peru), The Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario (Canada), the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK), the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the College of Medicine of Peru, the Global Thinkers Forum Award for Excellence in Promoting Peace and Collaboration and the Liberal International Prize for Freedom.