William "Martin Murphy, the Bantry jobber," was a businessman from County Cork who became perhaps the most important capitalist in all of Ireland and wielded great influence in the "national press." He was elected to the House of Commons in 1885 and became a member of "the Bantry band," a group of MPs who all came from the vicinity of Bantry Bay. He published the newspaper that the Citizen mocks, "The Irish Independent, if you please, founded by Parnell to be the workingman's friend."
In the early 1900s Murphy acquired the Irish Daily
Independent, which soon challenged The Freeman's
Journal for the claim of being Ireland's leading
nationalist newspaper. The Citizen, reading a succession of
English names and addresses from the births, deaths, and
marriages lists in the Independent, implies that it,
like the Freeman's
Journal, is insufficiently nationalistic and
excessively cozy with the Anglo-Irish elite.
Joyce told his brother Stanislaus that the United Irishman, a more vigorously nationalistic paper than either the Freeman or the Independent, was the only Irish newspaper worth reading. And given the fact that Murphy turned against Parnell in the struggles after the O'Shea divorce trial, it seems possible that the author shared some of the Citizen's dislike for Murphy. But the Citizen's words amount to little more than ethnophobia.
Murphy is best known to historians for his steadfast
opposition to labor unions, which earned him the nickname
"William Murder Murphy" after his opposition to unionizing
Dublin's tram business led to the greatest labor clash in
Irish history, the Dublin Lockout of 1913. His newspaper
attacks on union leaders James Larkin and James Connolly
during this episode had a further murderous spillover in 1916,
when the Independent urged the execution of Connolly
and other leaders of the Easter uprising. It got what it asked
It would have been anachronistic for Joyce to allude to this
series of events in a book set in 1904, and he does not do so.
But he was almost certainly aware that Murphy, in addition to
being a titan of Irish journalism, was the man who organized
the Dublin United Tramways
Company, and the Citizen characterizes him as no friend
to "the workingman."
For more on the insufficiently studied topic of Murphy's career in journalism, see "Entrepreneurship, Power, and Public Opinion in Ireland; the Career of William Martin Murphy," by Andy Bielenberg, at http://www.ucc.ie/chronicon/bielfra.htm.