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Friday 22 August 2014

Consultant blames cheap price of alcohol for 'NekNomination' craze

Aishling Phelan

Published 03/02/2014 | 14:26

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A liver disease consultant has blamed the wide availability of alcohol in Ireland for the social media craze that has caused two deaths.

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‘‘There’s a huge problem in Ireland in relation to alcohol, it’s cheap and very affordable,’’ Prof Frank Murray told News At One on RTÉ Radio 1.

 

‘‘Alcohol is available far too widely, there’s been a five-fold increase in the number of off-licences in the south of Ireland and that’s ridiculous,’’ he said.

 

The consultant gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital echoed Minister Pat Rabbitte’s call for a Facebook-wide ban of '#NekNomination' videos in order to stop the trend.

 

‘‘As a doctor and a father, I am appalled that these various drinking games are being promoted on the internet.

 

‘‘There’s a sort of recklessness among boys and younger men. They don’t really have a sense of the dangers associated with alcohol,’’ he added.

 

The game involves people being nominated to drink large, sometimes lethal, amounts of alcohol and then posting a video online.

 

The consultant, who specialises in liver disease, discussed some of the dangers associated with the social media dare.

 

‘‘It’s available widely to underage individuals who are drinking to access so there’s a huge danger,’’ he said.

 

He said the only way to tackle the country’s binge drinking problem was to restrict access to alcohol.

 

‘‘A fundamental way to reduce that damage is to reduce availability and reduce price,’’ he insisted.

 

‘‘The government has published the alcohol Public Health Bill and it has a lot of wisdom within it and I would encourage them to implement that as soon as it is feasible.’’

 

Within the act, the government has supported the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

 

‘‘I think it should be available in a more regulated way and in less outlets.’’

 

He is concerned about how young people can get their hands on such large quantities of alcohol.

 

The social media craze has been linked to a number of dangerous incidents around the country in recent days, including the death of 19-year-old Jonny Byrne.

 

Jonny finished his drink before leaping into the River Barrow near Milford Bridge, Co Carlow on Saturday.

 

‘‘What you’re seeing here is a particularly severe case and I send out my condolences to the family of the affected young man.

 

‘‘A particularly bad outcome from severe alcohol intake,’’ he added.

 

The doctor also chairs the Royal College of Physician’s policy group on alcohol.

 

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