The newly opened Starbucks café in Drogheda came under national scrutiny this week after it was picketed by a group of gender fluid activists protesting the companies ‘One Cup, One Name’ policy.
Store manager Daithí O’Hare sympathised with the protesters but said that his hands were tied on the issue. “I can only go on our customer service guidelines,” he explained. “Until instructed otherwise, I cannot and will not allow staff to break protocol. The rules are in place for a reason.”
The furore erupted on Tuesday morning after gender fluid electrician Séamus Wendy Cowley popped in to the newly opened branch in the Laurence Shopping Centre for a Tall Caffé Misto between nixers.
“When I ordered I did so as Séamus but while I was waiting I saw a story on Buzzfeed about cats and it really awakened my feminine side. When they called out Séamus it totally didn’t register with me. I was Wendy. Eventually I just left in tears. I felt humiliated.”
Séamus Wendy immediately set up a support group on Facebook. Some family members, friends and other victims of the policy were quick to lend support. A picket was arranged for first thing that afternoon.
Julia Harold O’Brien left her job as a dental assistant at lunchtime to lead the first shift of picketers.
“This is an important human rights issue. We are clearly being discriminated against because of who we are. I’m sick of being defined by the gender binary brigade.
“I’ve been to America and seen manys a Juan Pablo scribbled on Starbucks coffee cups. My Mexican friend Ana Maria also had no problems. It’s one rule for them, one rule for us. I can speak Spanish myself but it makes no difference here. It’s disgusting.”
With the picket entering a second day, no sign of a resolution is in sight.