Be strong and say no to Neknomination, urges priest at teen’s funeral

Jonathan Byrne
Jonathan Byrne

People must be brave and say no to peer pressure where alcohol is concerned, the priest at the funeral of a teenager in the Republic of Ireland who is thought to have died after a ‘Neknomination’ told mourners yesterday.

Jonathan Byrne, from Leighlinbridge in Co Carlow, died after entering the River Barrow on Saturday night.

The 19-year-old had been taking part in the internet drinking craze whereby people take copious amounts of alcohol, sometimes mixed with other things, and post a video online before nominating someone else to do the same.

Mourners at his funeral mass were urged not to engage in the dangerous game.

“Life is full of risks. We are always taking risks,” said Fr Father Thomas Lalor.

“Often we make great calculations before taking a risk. We know that if we fail the result can have disastrous consequences. And then add alcohol to the situation as is the case in so many of these ‘Neknominations’. And the peer pressure that brings modern risks, modern challenges that were unknown in my time, unknown over 10 years ago.”

Fr Lalor said people need to be prepared to say no if they think something is dangerous or feel pressured into doing something they are not comfortable with.

“If you are faced with this challenge, be strong, be great, and make a worthwhile contribution,” he said. “You owe it to Jonathan Byrne.”

The craze, understood to have initiated in Australia, has spread through the world but since Jonathan’s death, and the death of another man in the Republic which has been linked to the game, it has been widely condemned.

A Northern Ireland ‘Neknomination’ Facebook page remains open but now claims to be a way to highlight the dangers of the game.

Meanwhile, the Lisburn-based judge who was filmed downing a shot and nominating someone else to do the same will continue to hear cases while inquiries are made about her conduct, the Lord Chief Justice’s Office confirmed.

An earlier statement said Rosemary Watters “recognises her foolish behaviour and would discourage anyone else from repeating what she did”.

The judge had been at a family event when the footage was taken.