The lavish spending of ‘Johnny Cash’ brought him to the attention of the IRA, even before gardaí had built up their own dossier on him
A senior IRA figure who has been named as one of the organisers of the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974 was the man who collected the cash from the suspected cartel money launderer, sources said. The pair were monitored during their meetings by undercover gardaí.
At the time, Morrissey ran an upmarket restaurant named Annalise in the seaside town of Kinsale after moving from his Manchester base with millions of pounds to spend and invest from his involvement in organised crime in the UK.
He became known locally as Johnny Cash as he paid for everything with wads of banknotes, including the estimated €600,000 to refurbish his property.
His lavish spending and rumours that he was a British gangland hitman before his move to Ireland quickly brought him to the attention of the IRA, even before gardaí had built up their own dossier on him.
Murray would travel to meet Morrissey every few months, and on each occasion 10 grand or so would be ‘donated’ to the cause.
In the mid-1990s, when Morrissey operated 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 Troubles were still claiming lives.
Any drug trafficker of substance such as Morrissey faced either being killed, seriously harmed, driven out of the country by the Provos or – as in his case – forced to pay protection money.
A source who investigated the situation at the time said Morrissey was often seen with IRA bomber Mick Murray during the years he operated in the West Cork culinary capital of Ireland.
Murray was originally from Donnycarney, north Dublin, and served 12 years in a British prison for terrorist 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 bombings that resulted in the deaths of 21 mostly young people.
A botched police investigation led to six innocent men – the Birmingham Six – being convicted of the bombings.
Murray was never charged with murder and, after serving his 12-year sentence for possessing explosives in a separate case, he returned to Ireland where he continued to be heavily involved in IRA fundraising and other activities.
Morrissey never had any hassle from anti-drug republican movements who 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 collected the protection money from him.
A source said: “Murray would travel to meet Morrissey every few months, and on each occasion 10 grand or so would be ‘donated’ by Morrissey to the cause. This money then often ended up in a prison welfare fund.
“This ensured that Morrissey never had any hassle from the various anti-drug republican movements who were marching on drug dealers’ homes at the time and sometimes attacking them.”
While Irish passport holder Morrissey had built up a relatively cosy relationship with the terrorists, this 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 Ireland.
Cab officers seized €130,000 in cash from him, while property worth €500,000 was seized as well.
Morrissey no longer felt safe in Ireland and left for Spain, where he continued to be involved in money laundering for a large number of international crime gangs – including, allegedly, the Kinahan cartel.