Nightclub branded 'racist' after 'hiring a dwarf to play a leprechaun' for its St Patrick's day party

17 March 2023, 22:17

Greg the Miniman aka Greg Doherty had been booked to play the leprechaun
Greg the Miniman aka Greg Doherty had been booked to play the leprechaun. Picture: Instagram

By Kit Heren

A Manchester nightclub has been labelled "racist" for hiring a dwarf to play a leprechaun at the venue in honour of St Patrick's Day.

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Organisers DNA Events asked people on WhatsApp to come to the party on Friday night at Cargo, in Printworks in Manchester.

The promotion said: ‘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.’The flyer featured a cartoon of a leprechaun above a model wearing an ‘Irish hat’.

An Irish student who studies University of Salford, but wanted to stay anonymous, said the choice was "highly offensive."

"I’ve suffered high levels of racism, which doesn’t seem to be held in the same regard as other kinds of racism in the UK," they told the Manchester Evening News. "And this stereotypical leprechaun business is just ridiculous."

The poster for the event
The poster for the event. Picture: DNA

"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 casual racism toward Irish people in the community is nothing new, particularly around this time of year.

"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."

Labour Party councillor for Man Pat Karney said: “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.”

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Actor Gregory Doherty, who had been booked to play the leprechaun said he was not offended by it. His website suggests he has been acting as a leprechaun since at least 2010.

"As you can imagine with a name like Doherty I am of Irish descent,’ he said. ‘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.‘I am sure these Irish cultural icons would not be considered “offensive” or a slur against the Irish people.

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Of course, I cannot speak for all of the Irish living in Manchester, but I suspect you are listening to a vocal minority.‘The problem with cultural icons like George and the Dragon [or] wearing Viking helmets [or] dressing up in a kilt on feast days and holidays – it’s not really the iconography of the image, it’s the people wearing them.

"It’s the association with drunk and disorderly behaviour. That is what people are offended by."

DNA Events has since cancelled that element of the show. They said in a statement: "We’re aware that there has been some negative press in regards to one of our DNA events being promoted as part of our Big St Patrick’s Day Weekender activity, specifically in relation to our engagement with a dwarf entertainer as part of our Rumour Friday Special event.

"DNA has 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.

"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."

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