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I'm glad devastating drink game stopped, says victim's brother

THE brother of a teenager who died while taking part in the Neknomination drinking game has welcomed a decline in the online craze.

Patrick Byrne's brother Jonny (19) was killed on February 1 this year when he jumped into the River Barrow, apparently as part of a Neknominate dare.

Alcohol Action Ireland and the Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) organisation both told the Herald about a marked decline in the drinking game recently.

And 26-year-old Patrick has praised the young people and organisations who worked against Neknomination following the tragedy that befell his family.

"I have to say fair play to all the youngsters. They've started to cop on and they've knocked it all on the head," he said.

"I was happy after everything that happened that people and organisations joined in the cause of trying to stop this.

"People are now starting to realise that what can start out as a bit of fun can be devastating," he added.

Mr Byrne said his family, from Leighlinbridge in Co Carlow, were "hanging on as best we can" since the death of his brother earlier this year.

They have been vocal in warning of the potential dangers of the game.

Jonny's father Joe Byrne even went on RTE's Late Late Show to plead with young people to say "no" to the online craze.

Alcohol awareness groups have welcomed the decline in the phenomenon – but have warned there's still work to do to combat binge drinking.

The craze, which involved downing a large volume of alcohol and daring a friend to do the same, became popular at the beginning of this year, having originated in Australia.

Another tragedy associated with it was the death of Ross Cummins (22), a Dublin DJ who died at a house in the city centre in February after downing a large quantity of whiskey.

Conor Cullen, from Alcohol Action Ireland, hailed the decline in the game but warned that Irish society still had a problem with binge drinking.

"The Neknomination craze has certainly diminished and is not as problematic as it was which is certainly positive.

"But it took a loss of life to bring about this reduction," he told the Herald. Mr Cullen said that alcohol is a factor in the death of three people a day in Ireland and that the culture that made Neknomination so popular is still present.

"There's going to be some other fad in six months, because that culture still exists," he added.


Mr Cullen said he hoped the tragedies which resulted from Neknomination helped to raise awareness of the dangers of binge drinking.

Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of MEAS, also hailed a decline in the craze.

"We certainly welcome it because it was a very worrying trend that had very serious consequences," she said.