John Alderdice, Baron Alderdice

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The Lord Alderdice
Official portrait of Lord Alderdice crop 2, 2019.jpg
Alderdice in 2019
President of Liberal International
In office
25 April 2005 – 20 April 2009
Preceded byAnnemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck
Succeeded byHans van Baalen
1st Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly
In office
1 July 1998 – 29 February 2004
MonarchElizabeth II
First MinisterFirst Ministers
David Trimble
Reg Empey (Acting)
David Trimble
Direct Rule First Ministers
John Reid
Paul Murphy
DeputySir John Gorman
Donovan McClelland
Jane Morrice
Jim Wilson
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byEileen Bell
Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
In office
DeputyGordon Mawhinney
Seamus Close
General SecretaryEileen Bell
David Ford
Preceded byJohn Cushnahan
Succeeded bySeán Neeson
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast East
In office
25 June 1998 – 26 November 2003
Preceded byNew Creation
Succeeded byNaomi Long
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
5 November 1996
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1955-03-28) 28 March 1955 (age 66)
Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Other political
Spouse(s)Joan Hill
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

John Thomas Alderdice, Baron Alderdice (born 28 March 1955[1]) is a Northern Ireland politician. He was the Speaker and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for East Belfast from 1998 to 2004 and 1998 to 2003, respectively. Alderdice was the leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland from 1987 to 1998, and since 1996 has sat in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Alderdice was born to David Alderdice and Annie Margaret Helena Shields. He was educated at Ballymena Academy and the Queen's University Belfast (QUB) where he studied medicine and qualified in 1978. In 1977 he married Joan Hill, with whom he has two sons and one daughter.[2] He worked part-time as a consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy in the NHS from 1988 until he retired from psychiatric practice in 2010.[3][4] He also lectured at Queen's University's Faculty of Medicine between 1991 and 1999.[3]

Alderdice claims a distant relationship to John King, a 19th-century Australian explorer and the sole survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition.[5]

Political career in Northern Ireland[edit]

The Alliance Party was formed in 1970 as an alternative to sectarian politics.[6] Alderdice was on the executive committee of the party between 1984 and 1998, chair of the policy committee between 1985 and 1987 and the party vice-chair in 1987, before becoming the party leader ahead of the 1987 general election. He contested Belfast East for the party in 1987 and 1992.[1] He received 32.1% of the vote in 1987,[7] the highest percentage achieved by Alliance in an individual seat in a Westminster election until Naomi Long's historic victory for the party in Belfast East in the 2010 general election.[8] In 1988, in Alliance's keynote post-Anglo Irish Agreement document, "Governing with Consent", Alderdice called for a devolved power-sharing government based on a voluntary coalition elected by a qualified majority vote. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Alliance's vote across Northern Ireland stabilised at between 6% and 8%.[6]

Alderdice once again contested Belfast East in the 1992 general election.[7] He led the Alliance delegation to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation at Dublin Castle and the Northern Ireland multiparty talks, and was a member of the Northern Ireland Forum.[3]

Alderdice was willing to talk with Sinn Féin, after the IRA called a ceasefire in 1994, when others in the unionist community regarded such discussions as unacceptable.[9]

He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast East in 1998 and became the assembly's first speaker, serving until 2004. Mo Mowlam said that Alderdice's "political and parliamentary experience mean that he is well suited to carry out this role".[10] Alderdice was a Belfast City councillor from 1989 until 1997.[4] He resigned as party leader in 1998 to take the position of Speaker.[3] He was a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission from 2004 to 2011.[11]

Elevation to peerage[edit]

Alderdice was created a life peer on 8 October 1996 as Baron Alderdice, of Knock in the City of Belfast,[2][12] and was one of the youngest ever life peers.[3] He sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat. On 10 June 2010, he was elected to the new position of convenor of the Liberal Democrat peers, a role in which he chairs the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party in the House of Lords.[4]

He was elected president of Liberal International in 2005 and served until Liberal International's Cairo congress in 2009. He was succeeded by Dutch politician Hans van Baalen.[13]

Awards and honours[edit]

Alderdice has been awarded several honours: the John F Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award in 1998; the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award in 1998; the Silver Medal of Congress of Peru in 1999 and 2004; the Medal of Honour, College of Medicine of Peru in 1999; and the Freedom of the City of Baltimore in 1991.[14] He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland,[11] but resigned in June 2018 due to the church's opposition to same-sex relationships.[15]

In 2001 he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists[3] and has also been awarded an honorary doctorate in law from Robert Gordon University.[16]


Coat of arms of John Alderdice, Baron Alderdice
of a Baron
In front of a Boar salient to the sinister Azure armed and unguled Or a Boar salient Or armed and unguled Azure
Or a Fess wavy between two Cotises wavy set on the outer edge with Alder Leaves all between three Estoiles Azure
On either side a Pegasus reguardant Argent maned tailed unguled and winged Or in the mouth a Flax Flower Azure slipped and leaved Or
Bene Qui Pacifi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c United Kingdom. "Democracy Live | Your representatives | John Alderdice". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Alderdice, Baron (UK, 1996)". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Election and introduction of Honorary Fellows – 25 (12): 491 – The Psychiatrist". doi:10.1192/pb.25.12.491. Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b c "Lord Alderdice". Archived from the original on 13 May 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Irish Lord's connection with the Yandruwandha people". CAAMA News. Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Alliance and the Peace Process (The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)". 21 April 1970. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  7. ^ a b glen baker (6 April 2010). "Belfast East election results 1885–2005 – Politics, News". Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Naomi Long beats Peter Robinson to win in East Belfast". Retrieved 22 August 2010.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Focus | Profile – John Alderdice". BBC News. 20 May 1998. Archived from the original on 17 July 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Latest News | Alderdice to be Assembly's first Speaker". BBC News. 29 June 1998. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Independent Monitoring Coimmission". 7 January 2004. Archived from the original on 7 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  12. ^ "No. 54552". The London Gazette. 15 October 1996. p. 13689.
  13. ^ "Bureau – People – Members – Liberalism". Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  14. ^ "EUROPEAN UNION – Delegation of the European Union to the USA – October 15, 2008". 15 October 2008. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  15. ^ Walker, Stephen (14 June 2018). "Lord Alderdice resigns from Presbyterian Church". BBC News. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  16. ^ UK. "Honorary Graduates | News & Events | Robert Gordon University (RGU) Aberdeen Scotland". RGU. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Forum
New forum Member for East Belfast
Forum dissolved
Northern Ireland Assembly
New assembly MLA for Belfast East
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leader of the Alliance Party (NI)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
President of the Liberal International
Succeeded by
Political offices
New office Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Baron Alderdice
Followed by
The Lord Paul