Jailed gangland fixer Johnny Morrissey, 62, arrested in Spain last week on money laundering charges, paid tens of thousands of pounds in protection money to the Provisional IRA in the 1990s, the Irish Independent has learned.
A senior IRA figure named as one of the organizers of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings was the man who collected the money from the cartel’s alleged money launderer, sources said. The two were monitored by undercover Gardaí during their meetings.
At the time, Morrissey was running a fine dining restaurant called Annalize in the seaside town of Kinsale, having moved away from his Manchester base with millions of pounds to spend and invest from his involvement in organized crime in Britain.
He became known locally as Johnny Cash as he paid for everything in banknotes, including the estimated €600,000 for the renovation of his property.
His lavish spending and rumors that he was a British gangland hitman before he moved to Ireland quickly caught the attention of the IRA, even before Gardaí had compiled a dossier of their own on him.
Murray traveled to meet Morrissey every few months and about 10 grand was “donated” to the cause each time.
By the mid-1990s, when Morrissey was operating in Kinsale, the IRA was a feared force to be reckoned with in Ireland’s criminal underworld. This was the era before the Good Friday Agreement and the riots were still claiming lives.
Every drug trafficker of substance like Morrissey was either killed by the Provos, badly injured, expelled from the country or—as in his case—forced into protection money.
A source investigating the situation at the time said Morrissey was often spotted with IRA bomber Mick Murray during the years he worked in the culinary capital of Ireland’s West Cork.
Originally from Donnycarney, north Dublin, Murray served 12 years in a UK prison for terrorism offences. He died in 1999, but in 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 bombings that resulted in the deaths of 21 mostly young people.
A botched police investigation resulted in six innocent men – the Birmingham Six – being convicted in the bombings.
Murray was never charged with murder and after serving his 12-year sentence for possession of explosives on another count, he returned to Ireland where he remained heavily involved in fundraising and other IRA activities.
Morrissey never had any trouble with Republican anti-drug movements that were marching on drug dealers’ homes at the time
When gangland fixer Morrissey became a target for the IRA, it was Murray – one of the Provos’ most feared “volunteers” – who took the protection money from him.
A source said: “Murray traveled to meet Morrissey every few months and each time Morrissey ‘donated’ about 10 grand to the cause. That money often ended up in a prison welfare fund.
“This ensured that Morrissey never had any trouble with the various Republican anti-drug movements that were marching on and sometimes attacking drug dealers’ homes at the time.”
While Irish passport holder Morrissey had developed a relatively comfortable relationship with the terrorists, it made him even more of a target for Gardaí, who were building their own case against him.
The Englishman became one of the first targets of the newly formed Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) after it discovered he had a significant criminal background outside of Ireland.
Taxi officials confiscated €130,000 in cash from him, and €500,000 worth of property was also confiscated.
No longer feeling safe in Ireland, Morrissey went to Spain, where he continued to be involved in money laundering for a large number of international crime gangs – including allegedly the Kinahan cartel.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/the-cartel-launderer-the-provisional-ira-and-a-seaside-restaurant-in-cork-42007941.html The cartel washer, the Provisional IRA and a seaside restaurant in Cork