Chris served as a private secretary to the Chief Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, during the short-lived power sharing Executive in 1974; and as a private secretary to the Deputy Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1977.
Between 1980 and 1984 he was a special assistant to the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir John Hermon; and from 1988 to 1991 Director of Regimes in the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
In 1992 he was appointed head of the Political Affairs Division in the Northern Ireland Office, and subsequently Political Director of the NIO (an appointment coupled with the role of British Joint Secretary of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference). From then until his retirement from the NIO in 2008 he was deeply involved in the negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and beyond, and in discussions with the associates of various paramilitary groups. Since 2006 he has given advice to the governments of Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Tanzania, Colombia, Lebanon, Cameroon and elsewhere on peace processes and political development.
Between 2012 and 2017 he was a member of the International Verification Commission that monitored ETA’s ceasefire in Spain, and oversaw that organisation’s decommissioning. He is the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice’s representative on the team assessing the Minister’s 2010 agreement with dissident Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison; a director of Forum for Cities in Transition (Belfast) Ltd; and a and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of Victoria College Belfast.
Chris holds bachelors and masters degrees in law from Queen’s University and the University of London. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University in 2008, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2004 he was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in the Queen’s Birthday Honours; and in March 2020 he was appointed an Honorary Professor of Practice of Conflict Resolution at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University Belfast.