Paul Anthony Elliott Bew, Baron Bew (born 22 January 1950[1]),[2] is a British historian from Northern Ireland and a life peer. He has worked at Queen's University Belfast since 1979, and is currently Professor of Irish Politics, a position he has held since 1991.[2]

The Lord Bew
Chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission
Assumed office
25 October 2018
Preceded byLord Kakkar
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
26 March 2007
Life peerage
Personal details
Born (1950-01-22) 22 January 1950 (age 69)
Political partyCrossbench

Academic careerEdit

Bew was born in Belfast. He attended Campbell College, Belfast before studying for his BA and PhD at Pembroke College, Cambridge. His first book, Land and the National Question in Ireland, 1858–82 was a revisionist study that challenged nationalist historiography by examining the clash between landowners and tenants as well as the conflict between large and small tenants. His third book, a short study of Charles Stewart Parnell, challenged some of the arguments of the award-winning biography of Parnell by F. S. L. Lyons, though Lyons, one of the "doyens" of modern Irish history, acknowledged the young historian's arguments by stating that "Nothing Dr Bew writes is without interest."[3] Bew's central thesis is that Parnell was a fundamentally conservative figure whose ultimate aim was to secure a continuing position of leadership for the Protestant gentry in a Home Rule Ireland.

In 2007, Oxford University Press published Bew's Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006, which forms part of the Oxford History of Modern Europe series. The book received positive reviews.[3][4][5]

Bew acted as a historical advisor to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry between 1998 and 2001.[6]

Bew was also involved in the project by Boston College to record interviews by former participants in the Irish "Troubles", including former republican and loyalist paramilitaries.[7] In 2014, Gerry Adams criticised Bew's handling of the Boston College project, as well as the journalist Ed Moloney and the former IRA volunteer Anthony McIntyre.[7][8] Adams claimed Bew had deliberately chosen Moloney and McIntyre because they were unsympathetic to Adams.[7][8] Bew expressed regret over the closure of the project, and stated further oral history projects of the Troubles were now "under a cloud".[9]

Political involvementEdit

Bew's political stance has changed over the years. In a 2004 interview for The Guardian, he stated that "While my language was more obviously leftwing in the 1970s than today, that sympathy has always been there".[2] As a young man, Bew participated in the People's Democracy marches. Bew was briefly a member of a group called the British and Irish Communist Organisation, which advocated the Two Nations Theory of Northern Ireland.[10] Bew was also a member of the Workers' Party of Ireland, then known as Official Sinn Fein.[11]

From 1991-93 he served as President of The Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations.

Later, Bew served as an adviser to David Trimble.[2] Trimble and Bew are both signatories to the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society,[12] which has been characterised as a neoconservative organisation.[13]

Bew's contributions to the Good Friday Agreement process were acknowledged with an appointment to the House of Lords as a life peer in February 2007.[14] He was created Baron Bew, of Donegore in the County of Antrim on 26 March 2007,[15] and sits as a crossbencher.

Lord Bew was appointed Chair Committee on Standards in Public Life, an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government, on 1 September 2013. His term is scheduled to end on 31 August 2018.[16] In October 2018, he was appointed as Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission for a five-year term starting on 1 November 2018.[17]


Bew is married to Greta Jones, a history professor at the University of Ulster, with whom he has one son, John Bew, who is professor of history at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.[2]



  • Land and the National Question in Ireland, 1858–82. Gill & Macmillan. 1979.
  • The State in Northern Ireland, 1921–72: Political Forces and Social Class. Manchester University Press. 1979.
  • C.S. Parnell. Gill & Macmillan. 1980.
  • Sean Lemass and the Making of Modern Ireland, 1945–66. Gill & Macmillan. 1982. (with Henry Patterson)
  • The British State and the Ulster Crisis: From Wilson to Thatcher. Verso Books. 1985. (with Henry Patterson)
  • Conflict and Conciliation in Ireland, 1890–1910: Parnellites and Radical Agrarians. Clarendon Press. 1987.
  • The Dynamics of Irish Politics. Lawrence & Wishart. 1989. (with Henry Patterson and Ellen Hazelkorn)
  • Between War and Peace: The Political Future of Northern Ireland. Lawrence & Wishart. 1997.
  • Northern Ireland 1921–2001: Political Power and Social Classes. Serif. 2002.
  • Ideology and the Irish Question: Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism, 1912–1916. Clarendon Press. 1994.
  • John Redmond. Dundalgan Press. 1996.
  • Northern Ireland: A Chronology of the Troubles, 1968–99. Gill & Macmillan. 1999. (with Gordon Gillespie)
  • The Making and Remaking of the Good Friday Agreement. The Liffey Press. 2007.
  • Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006. Oxford University Press. 2007.
  • Enigma: A New Life of Charles Stewart Parnell. Gill & Macmillan. 2011.
  • Churchill & Ireland. Oxford University Press. 2016.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media: 33. 22 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Richards, Huw (9 March 2004). "Paul Bew: Belfast's history man". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b Roy Foster (13 December 2007). "Partnership of loss". London Review of Books. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  4. ^ Eoghan Harris (21 October 2007). "Badly needed corrective to vilification of Long Fellow". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  5. ^ Michael Burleigh (18 November 2007). "Not all stout and oysters". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  6. ^ Bew, Paul (2005). "The role of the historical adviser and the Bloody Sunday Tribunal". Historical Research. 78 (199): 113–127. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2005.00240.x.
  7. ^ a b c "Gerry Adams has welcomed the College’s decision to hand back the tapes. “The Boston College Belfast Project was flawed from the beginning.” he said yesterday. “It was conceived by Lord Paul Bew, ” he said. He proposed Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre despite the fact that both individuals were “extremely hostile” me and Sinn Fein, Mr Adams said". Boston College says it will return interviews about the North. The Irish Times, 6 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Gerry Adams: I complained formally over police detention" The Guardian 7 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  9. ^ ""The prestige of Boston College will continue to grow but a project which had been designed as one of the jewels in the crown of a great library has gone. Other similar projects to use oral history as a means of dealing with the past in the Troubles are also, to say the least, under a cloud." Boston College Troubles archive closure a loss to history Belfast Telegraph, 12 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  10. ^ Godson, Dean. Himself alone: David Trimble and the ordeal of Unionism HarperCollins, 2004 (pg. 30).
  11. ^ Brian Hanley & Scott Millar, The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party Penguin, 2010.
  12. ^ "Signatories to the Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  13. ^ David Clark (21 November 2005). "The neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain's bitter liberals". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  14. ^ "Belfast academic becomes lord". The Irish Times. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  15. ^ "No. 58287". The London Gazette. 29 March 2007. p. 4595.
  16. ^ "Lord Paul Bew - GOV.UK".
  17. ^ "Lord Bew appointed Chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission" (PDF). House of Lords Appointments Commission. October 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2018.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
The Lord Kakkar
Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission