Building mogul's daughter wants to turn firm into co-op
J Murphy & Sons is one of Britain's must successful construction firms
THE daughter of an Irish construction magnate has announced her resignation from the helm of her late father's empire.
But Caroline Murphy (31) wants to turn the company founded by her father, one of Britain's most successful building firms, into a workers' co-operative and has committed her 20pc share to this end.
John Murphy, who was from Loughmark, near Cahirsiveen in Co Kerry, emigrated to London in the 1930s when he was 15.
In a rags-to-riches tale, at the time of his death in May 2009, at the age of 95, he had amassed an estimated fortune of €230m.
He was laid to rest in his native Cahirsiveen.
He had worked on the construction of RAF runways and airports during the onset of World War II, and was also involved in post-war rebuilding of the city.
One of his companies, J Murphy & Sons, was involved in the construction of the Channel Tunnel in the 1990s and also built the Olympic Games site in London.
Three years before his death, he had installed his only daughter, then 23 – who was born when he was 69 – as vice chairman of The Murphy Group, the parent company of seven businesses, including J Murphy & Sons, Murphy Pipelines, Murphy International and Murphy Homes.
In a statement announcing her resignation after eight years with the Murphy Group, Ms Murphy said her father remained "a great inspiration" for her but structures within the company held no space for her to develop her idea of a workers' co-operative further. She said she believed her father would approve of her idea.
"I was delighted to have seen the company grow in strength during the years I worked to embed his values into the structure of the Murphy Group. I was proud to see those efforts recognised independently too, when I was named as one of the top five private business women in the UK.
"The natural extension of my father's values, in my view, is the development of the Murphy Group into an employee-owned structure," she said.
"I believe the future of his legacy is best entrusted into the capable hands of its people. I have been vocal in my belief that leadership of this business must include those working on the ground if it is to continue to deliver for the clients who have placed their trust in us over the years.
"Taking into account the direction of the board's interests, the current structure holds no space for me to develop this process further."
Ms Murphy concluded by wishing all within the Murphy Group the greatest success for the future.
She said she hoped the company went on to represent her father and continued to provide work and opportunity for many years to come.
A trade union activist, Ms Murphy is also an avid campaigner to end violence against women and does a lot of work for this on behalf of Irish Travellers.
She is currently studying for an MA in Violence Against Women and Children.
Cahirsiveen businessman Joe C Keating, who knew Mr Murphy well and whose son Michael works for the Murphy Group in London, described him as an excellent employer.
"He always supported the people who worked for him, especially those from Kerry.
"He stuck with them through thick and thin and he was very good to the people working for him," Mr Keating said.