A bizarre Internet craze in which people dare each other to “neck” large quantities of alcohol and post the resulting pictures and videos online has been blamed for the deaths of two young men in Ireland over the weekend, amidst fears the potentially dangerous game could spread worldwide.

An Irish judge, Paul Carney, added his voice to the furor this afternoon when he told a court during a sentencing for a rape which took place when the offender was drunk, “If the current Internet drinking contest takes hold, it is going to result in a tsunami of homicide and rape prosecutions coming for this court”.

The dangerous craze—dubbed “neknomination” by the creators of a Facebook group with over 16,000 likes—is believed to be behind the deaths of a 22 year-old DJ found dead at his Dublin home on Saturday morning after taking part in drinking games the previous night and of a 19 year-old amateur sportsman who drowned after jumping into a swollen river following the downing of a drink as part of a “neknomination” challenge in the Irish countryside on Saturday night.

The brother of 19-year-old Jonny Byrne, from County Carlow, posted an emotional message on Facebook saying, “This neck nomination shit has to stop right now. My young 19-year-old brother died tonight in the middle of his nomination. He thought he had to try and beat the competition and after he downed his pint he jumped into the river. If people have any decency and respect they will refrain from any of this stupid neck nomination shit.”

He also changed his profile page to say “Stop ‘Neknomination’ before it’s too late. Share this.”
His father Joe said, “I’m appealing to everyone who is associated with this to please stop. It cost my son his life because of a dare and I don’t want to see anybody else in the same situation, because it has destroyed our family.”

A senior Irish government official, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, today called on Facebook to take down the ‘neck nomination’ groups and described the online drinking contest as a “stupid and silly game” with possibly “tragic consequences.”

“Firstly the responsibility is with young people who are falling for a foolish and stupid ruse that can have devastating consequences,” the minister said.

Rabbitte said that it would be “helpful” if Facebook intervened, adding that he may ask an advisory council to examine the ‘neknomination’ phenomenon.

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