Lord Alderdice may not be the best known politician of recent years but his role as leader of the non-sectarian Alliance Party in helping to secure Northern Ireland's transition from civil war to self-government makes him one of most significant. From 1998-2004, the first speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, established under the Good Friday Agreement, he then became a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission and has advised on conflict resolution around the globe. He is the Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict and a Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University and also a Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore (USA). He sits as a Liberal Democrat Peer and a Deputy to the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords.
Today, Northern Ireland faces the new challenges of Brexit which once again threaten its stability. Furthermore, it now seems that Scotland will eventually secede from the Union – if not now, then next time. Lord Alderdice will ask if there is a new, looser way forward, based perhaps on the Council of the Isles set up under the Anglo-Irish agreement? Would that allow parts of the current UK to be members of the EU but not others?