A burger van owner who hired his 4 foot, 7 inch friend to dress up as a leprechaun to advertise his business with a “mention the m-----” special offer has sparked outrage.
Peter Gallacher is paying pal Shaun Clark to walk up and down a main road wearing a sandwich board promoting his 10 per cent discount off burgers. The controversial promotion sees customers offered the reduced rate for customers who “mention the m-----” when buying burgers from Burger Lips in Canterbury, Kent.
Peter said the stunt was thought up by the pair to drum up business over a beer. The 35-year-old defended the promotion as “just a bit of banter” after dwarfism charity groups branded it “sad and pathetic”.
He said: “Most of the people I’ve spoken to haven’t been offended by it. Even Shaun wasn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it. If he’s not offended then others shouldn’t be on his behalf. Many of my customers were almost crying with laughter. It definitely helped business.
“There’s no difference between Shaun doing this and others appearing in pantomimes – it’s a job, they get paid for it and if they don’t enjoy it they won’t do it. It’s harmless fun.”
Shaun, who lives in nearby Herne Bay [Kent, England] and dressed as a leprechaun with a fake ginger beard, hit back at those offended by the stunt as being “overly sensitive." The 32-year-old added he worked in nightclubs and bachelor parties as “a little person” and supplied the costume himself as he had a wardrobe full of other mini outfits.
He said: “I don’t mind it - people who take offence to it are being overly sensitive. I agreed to do it and we spoke about it properly. I’ve got no problem with the word … as I walk down the road I get called it most days anyway. I was just helping Pete out.”
About 20 people claimed the discount on the first day of the promotion, which will run every week.
However Gill Martin, the chairman of the Restricted Growth Association argued it demonstrated “how many people still think dwarfism is an acceptable target for ridicule and abuse”.
She said: “How sad and pathetic that the owners of this food van thought the only way to sell burgers is to degrade and dehumanise people with dwarfism. The word ‘m-----’ is deeply offensive to people with dwarfism.
"It has strong historical associations with the freak shows of years gone by where we were paraded and abused. It should never be used.”
In Irish folklore leprechauns are a type of fairy that are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief.
This story originally appeared in SWNS.