John Alderdice

Lord John Alderdice

John, Lord Alderdice has devoted most of his working life to psychoanalytic psychiatry and politics, pursuing conflict resolution and healing at the individual and community level.

John’s work, both at the level of the individual and of the large group or community, has particularly focused on the promotion and development of psychological treatments and on the application of psychodynamic knowledge and understanding to the problems of communal conflict, religious fundamentalism, and political radicalization.

John Alderdice was born and grew up in Northern Ireland.  He was the Deputy Head Boy at Ballymena Academy and did well enough in his ‘A Level’ examinations to be admitted directly in the 2nd year of the medical degree course at The Queen’s University of Belfast in 1973.  He graduated in 1978 and proceeded rapidly through the training grades, becoming a consultant psychiatrist in 1988 and later a senior lecturer in psychotherapy at the university in Belfast.  He established various psychotherapy training organisations and schemes there and was subsequently appointed to visiting professorships at the University of San Marcos in Peru, and at the Universities of Virginia and Maryland in the USA.  He currently holds a number of appointments at the University of Oxford including being a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College and Executive Chairman of The Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College as well as being a Professor of Practice at the Global Humanity for Peace Institute at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Early in his life, violence erupted throughout Northern Ireland.  This violence is often referred to as “the Troubles” although that term minimises the sheer magnitude of the death, injury and devastation that was unleashed.  He played a vital role in helping to resolve this conflict and restore peace.  The political landscape was deeply polarised when, in 1978, he joined the Alliance Party which tried to build the centre ground.  In 1987, at the age of 32, he was elected leader of the Alliance Party.  He engaged in ongoing talks, including with the prime ministers of the UK and Ireland, leaders in the EU and the President of the USA, that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast in 1998.  He was appointed to be the first Speaker of the newly formed Northern Ireland Assembly, and he established and presided over the parliamentary proceedings.  He subsequently became a member of the four-man Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) established by the British, Irish and US Governments to bring to an end illegal paramilitary activity in Ireland and he remains actively involved in supporting and stabilising peace.

In 1996 he was made a life member of the House of Lords, one of the youngest ever life peers at that time and he has held various roles in the House of Lords including being Deputy Speaker during the COVID lockdown, and Convenor of the Liberal Democrat caucus during the Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government.  He has also been a member of various committees, including on ethics and standards, and on COVID. 

Always a committed liberal internationalist, he was elected President of Liberal International (the global organization of some 100 liberal political parties) from 2005 to 2009 and subsequently awarded the Liberal International Prize for Freedom and later the status of a lifetime President D’Honneur. 

Lord Alderdice has built upon his knowledge and experience, establishing and supporting organisations that promulgate and disseminate a better understanding of conflict and peace building.  He has consulted, negotiated, and lectured across the world on fundamentalism, radicalization, terrorism, and relations between indigenous and settler peoples.  He has published many academic papers and book chapters, developed a considerable international reputation and been the recipient of many honorary doctorates, fellowships and awards. 

Scroll to Top