Jailed gangland fixer Johnny Morrissey (62), who was arrested in Spain last week on money laundering charges, paid tens of thousands of pounds in protection money to the Provisional IRA during the 1990s, the Irish Independent has learned. I paid.
A senior IRA figure named as one of the masterminds of the 1974 Birmingham pub b*mbings was the man who collected cash from a suspected cartel money launderer, sources said. The pair were watched by undercover gardaí during their meetings.
At the time, Morrissey ran an upscale restaurant called Annalize in the seaside town of Kinsale after relocating from his Manchester base with millions of pounds to spend and invest from his involvement in organized crime in the UK.
He became known locally as Johnny Cash because he paid for everything with banknotes, including an estimated €600,000 to renovate his property.
His lavish spending and rumors that he was a British gangland hitman before his move to Ireland quickly brought him to the attention of the IRA, before gardaí built their dossier on him.
Murray traveled to see Morrissey every few months, and on each occasion 10 or more grand were ‘donated’ to the cause.
In the mid-1990s, when Morrissey operated in Kinsale, the IRA was a feared force in Ireland’s criminal underworld. This was the era before the Good Friday Agreement, and the Troubles were still claiming lives.
Any drug trafficker like Morrissey faced either being killed, seriously injured, kicked out of the country by Provos or, as in his case, forced to pay protection money.
A source investigating the situation at the time said Morrissey was often seen with IRA b*mber Mick Murray during the years when he worked in the Irish capital of West Cork.
Murray was originally from Donnie Carney, north Dublin, and spent 12 years in a British prison for terror offences. He died in 1999, but at an inquest in Birmingham 20 years later, he was named by an anonymous IRA volunteer as one of four men involved in the Birmingham pub b*mbings that killed 21, mostly young people. .
A botched police investigation led to the conviction of six innocent people – the Birmingham Six – for the b*mbings.
Murray was never charged with the m*rder and, after serving a 12-year sentence for possession of explosives in a separate case, he returned to Ireland where he became heavily involved in IRA fundraising and other activities. .
Morrissey never had a problem with the anti-drug republican movements that were marching on drug dealers’ homes at the time.
When gangland fixer Morrissey became a target of the IRA, it was Murray – one of the Provos’ most feared “volunteers” – who collected protection money from him.
A source said: “Murray would travel to see Morrissey every few months, and on each occasion Morrissey would ‘donate’ 10 grand or more to the cause. The money would then often be spent in prison. It used to end up in the welfare fund.
“He ensured that Morrissey never had any trouble with the various anti-narcotics republican movements that were marching on and sometimes att*cking the homes of drug dealers at the time.”
While Morrissey, an Irish passport holder, had developed a relatively cozy relationship with the terror*sts, this made him even more of a target for gardaí, who were building their case against him.
The Englishman became one of the first targets of the newly formed Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) after it was discovered he had a significant criminal background outside Ireland.
Cab officers seized €130,000 in cash from him, while property worth €500,000 was also seized.
Morrissey no longer felt safe in Ireland and moved to Spain, where he became involved in money laundering for a number of international crime groups – including allegedly the Kinahan cartel.
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