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John Flaherty, founder and Group Managing Director of the C&F Group, was named the 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

C&F 2008 Entrepreneur of the YearJohn Flaherty, founder of the C&F Group received Ireland’s coveted business award when he was named as the 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® at a ceremony last night. Flaherty was first announced as winner of the international category before receiving the overall title which was presented by the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Enda Kelly, partner-in-charge, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Programme said “Flaherty is at the forefront of Irish companies contributing to the new global economy and has implemented an innovative and successful business model. The Entrepreneur of the Year Programme provides us with valuable role models whose experience can teach both Ireland’s existing and future business people. John Flaherty will undoubtedly be an excellent ambassador for entrepreneurship in Ireland, he added.

Denis O’Brien, chairman of the judging panel and a former winner of the award commented on the high quality of finalists this year stating they are testament to the successful entrepreneurial community growing in Ireland. “When global manufacturing moved east in the late 1990s, John Flaherty refused to allow his Irish enterprise sleepwalk its way into extinction. To build a global business that has maintained its Irish manufacturing base is admirable, O’Brien added.

C&F 2008 Entrepreneur of the YearThe winners were chosen from a total of 24 finalists shortlisted by a judging panel from over 150 entries. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Awards is part of a global recognition programme to identify, acclaim and support entrepreneurs.

"I set out to build a global business and by the way that was always my plan and I’ve not fully finished," said Mr Flaherty in his acceptance speech.

When asked by host David McWilliams about the death of Irish manufacturing he replied: “Let this be a message to Ireland, that if we don’t keep what manufacturing is left we will have nothing because manufacturing is wealth.”

Mr Flaherty later shared his recipe for Irish manufacturing success. "We need flat management, total accountability and we need best manufacturing practices and the best technology available to support that," he said.

On accepting his award he commented; "My motto is if you start something, stay at it until you have it finished."

John Flaherty will now go on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monte Carlo in June 2009, where over 10,000 entrepreneurs will vie for the worldwide title.

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