As Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, Lord Alderdice played a significant role in the Talks on Northern Ireland including negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly and on retirement in 2004 was appointed to the Independent Monitoring Commission, tasked with closing down terrorist operations and overseeing normalization of security in 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 elected President of Liberal International (the world-wide network of more than 100 liberal political parties). In 2010 when the Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government was formed in the UK, he was elected Convenor (Chair) of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Lords. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, also appointed him to the UK Committee on Standards in Public Life, reappointing him for a further three year mandate in 2013. In 2014 he retired as Convenor to focus on his academic work at Oxford, however he continued as the Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Northern Ireland in the House of Lords, and in July 2015, after the Westminster General Election, the Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron MP appointed him Party Spokesman on Northern Ireland.
He was formerly Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy in Belfast, Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Queen’s University, Belfast and Visiting Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Co-Chairman of the Critical Incidents Analysis Group, University of Virginia, USA. Lord Alderdice is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford and a Research Associate both in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, and also at the Centre for International Studies in the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Oxford. He is also Chairman of the World Federation of Scientists Permanent Monitoring Panel on Motivations for Terrorism.
His research interests are the individual and group psychology of violent political conflict; the psychology of religious fundamentalism; and the psychology of large group relations particularly between indigenous people and settler communities. He travels extensively to speak, consult, negotiate and work on the resolution of violent political conflict in various parts of the world, but with a particular focus on the Middle East.
His many honours and recognitions include Hon FRCPI, Hon FRCPsych, International Psychoanalytic Association Award for Extraordinarily Meritorious Service to Psychoanalysis, World Federation of Scientists Ettore Majorana Prize for the application of science to the cause of Peace, Hon D Litt, University of East London, Hon LLD, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Hon D Univ, Open University, and in 2015 Liberal International’s highest honour, the Prize for Freedom.