McGrory, Patrick John Mary (‘Paddy’) (1923–94), solicitor, was born 11 October 1923 in the St James area of the Falls Road, Belfast, one of four children of Patrick Joseph McGrory, insurance manager, of 1 St James's Parade, Belfast, and his wife Mary (née Skeffington). His father was originally from Donegal and his mother from Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. Educated locally at St Kevin's primary school on the Falls Road and the Ard Scoil before winning a scholarship to St Malachy's College, Belfast, he went on to attend QUB, taking an honours degree in law and then completing a three-year apprenticeship as a solicitor. This led him to establish his own solicitor's practice in 1948. In March 1966 he joined the successful election campaign of Gerry Fitt (qv) (1926–2005) in the Westminster constituency of Belfast West. After the establishment of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, McGrory often acted as its voluntary legal adviser and represented those arrested and charged with public order offences. He acted for those involved in the incidents at Burntollet bridge (January 1969) when they later sought compensation for injuries, as well as those who had been wrongly arrested after the introduction of internment in 1971. Later his professional skills were also employed in numerous court cases involving those accused of paramilitary involvement, most notably in the ‘supergrass’ trials of the 1980s.
Much of this work went without much publicity but this all changed when in 1988 he acted as the legal representative of the families of three IRA members killed in Gibraltar by members of the British Special Air Service (SAS) while planning an attack. At the inquest in the coroner's court in Gibraltar, he cross-examined around one hundred witnesses, including those involved in the shooting. His case was built on the premise that a plan had been devised not to carry out arrests but rather to kill the suspects. On all sides there was recognition that McGrory handled his brief extremely skilfully; and although the jury decided by a majority of nine to two that the deaths had been lawful, he pursued the case further. Consequently, further submissions were made to the European Court of Human Rights that the killings had breached articles of the European convention for the protection of human rights. (After his death his son, also a solicitor, continued the case, and in 1995 the European court found in favour of the families of the deceased.) With McGrory's involvement in the case, however, came difficulties, and he was accused by some newspapers in Britain of being over-sympathetic to the cause of the IRA; later he won substantial damages against a number of them. In addition there is evidence that his profile made him a potential target for loyalist paramilitary groups even though he had in the past acted for loyalists.
He had a deep interest in the Irish language and traditional music, spending a lot of time in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where the family had a holiday home. Prior to his death, although semi-retired, McGrory still engaged in some legal work, with his family having taken over his law practice. He died of a heart attack on 22 December 1994 and was survived by his wife, Phyllis, his son Barra, and his daughters Orla, Clodagh, and Finola.