Calls for end to ‘Neknomination’ craze

“We have to treat alcohol with respect”

The parish priest of a young Carlow man who died after completing a ‘neknomination’ drinking challenge, has added his voice to those pleading with young people not to get involved in the online game.

Neknominations involve people filming themselves drinking, or ‘necking’, large quantities of alcohol, posting the video on social media and nominating two others to do the same within 24 hours. Jonny Byrne (19), from Tomard, Leighlinbridge, died after downing a pint and jumping into the river Barrow on Saturday night.

Fr Tom Lalor, Parish Priest of Leighlin, told The Irish Catholic that the community is in shock after his death. “Nobody can understand or believe such a thing could happen,” he said.

“He was a very lovely fella. He was in Carlow IT doing business studies and was very involved in sport. He was a very gracious and mannerly young man.”

Fr Lalor praised the bravery of the Byrne family who have publicly urged people to keep away from the drinking challenge, and said he will be appealing to young people in the community not to get involved with the game.

John Taffe, National Co-Ordinator of the Irish Bishops Drugs & Alcohol Initiative, also praised the Byrnes for their courage to speak out against neknominations.

“I hope that this message is getting across and that young people will listen and act upon it, and bring an end to this craze,” he told The Irish Catholic. “It’s dangerous because pressure is being put on individuals when the challenge is passed from one to another. We have to treat alcohol with respect. It is a drug and like any drug there are risks. I encourage people not to put pressure on one another to outdo each other and not to use alcohol in risky situations.”