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Club Sparks Backlash After Hiring Actor With Dwarfism To Play A Leprechaun For St. Patrick's Day

A message from Cargo in Manchester, UK, detailed how the leprechaun would be taking pictures with people 'all night.'

Club Sparks Backlash After Hiring Actor With Dwarfism To Play A Leprechaun For St. Patrick's Day
Greg Dougherty/Instagram

Students who had signed up for event alerts from DNA Events Manchester—an event promoter—got a bit of a shock when they got a Whatsapp message about an upcoming St. Patrick's Day party at popular student club Cargo that would feature a "leprechaun meet and greet."

The apparent plan was for an actor with dwarfism dressed as the mythical creature to go around the party and take pictures with guests.

The message read:

"This Friday we are hosting Manchester’s biggest Paddy’s Day event at Cargo."
"There’s a huge club dressing, plenty of Irish hats and handouts and we’ve got our own dwarf leprechaun that will be going round the venue taking pictures all night."

You can see the original Whatsapp message below:

Manchester Evening News

Local students who received the message were largely incredulous.

One Irish student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Manchester Evening News:

"Obviously it’s been much discussed among university students who are Irish, and I know I’ve received several messages from people saying ‘oh my god, have you seen this? It’s horrible’. People saying ‘I cannot believe that’s real’"
"I was shocked but not surprised when I saw it. This kind of causal racism toward Irish people in the community is nothing new, particularly around this time of year."

They continued:

"From my experience as an Irish person living in Manchester, I have suffered regular mocking of the accent and culture of where I am from and this sort of attitude has really impacted my experience living in the UK."
"There appears to be an expectation as an Irish person that we will laugh it off or tolerate treatment that would not be accepted by other ethnic groups which is really concerning in this day and age."

Manchester councillor Pat Karney was quite disappointed and called the Irish stereotyping "pathetic."

"I thought we had left this Irish stereotyping behind us years ago. This is truly pathetic and an insult to every Irish person. I hope they withdraw this insulting nonsense."

Jason Shay, the center director at Printworks—the venue which houses Cargo and where the event was to be held—also expressed shock and disappointment about the meet and greet element of the evening.

"We were just as shocked as everyone else when we heard about the meet and greet element of this event, which is being delivered by a third party events promoter at one of our tenants."

Shay said they quickly worked with the tenant to cancel that portion of the evening as it was strongly counter to Printworks' values.

"We have worked quickly, alongside our tenant, to ensure that it was pulled immediately. We strongly felt it went against our values of being inclusive and doing things the right way."

DNA Events released a statement after the meet and greet portion of the event was cancelled, clarifying their intentions.

"DNA have worked with Greg from the Minimen agency for over a decade, alongside hundreds of other entertainers from all backgrounds and disciplines to provide the highest calibre of entertainment and showmanship."
"We're proud to work with a wide diversity of performers and we have the utmost respect for Greg and his profession."

They did acknowledge their intentions didn't negate the way the community saw the event, though.

"That being said, we also understand the importance of listening to our customers and making sure that the entertainment we do provide is done with sensitivity towards the issues of race and culture, alongside those of inclusivity and diversity."
"As such, we have taken the decision to cancel this element of the show while we consult with all of our entertainers, agencies and performers to ensure that we are promoting these important values which form the backbone of our business."

Actor and performer Greg Dougherty, who was booked to play the leprechaun at the event, is Irish himself and doesn't see playing a leprechaun at a party as at all offensive.

He said:

"As you can imagine with a name like Doherty I am of Irish descent. Both my parents are Irish and I carry an Irish passport. I am incredibly proud to be of Irish heritage."
"I do not consider dressing up as a mythical creature offensive/or a racial slur against the people of Ireland. Not sure if you’ve ever travelled to Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, but the iconography of a leprechaun is as iconic as a shillelagh or a shamrock.

While it was very good DNA Events was willing to listen to community pushback against the event, it seems like there might be room for a greater community discussion on the subject.