‘There is no reason why dangerous online games can’t result in arrest and prosecution,’ independent MEP Nessa Childers said this morning.
‘We’ve all witnessed how so-called Neknominations can spiral out of control – sometimes with fatal consequences. New technologies demand new rules – social-networking is not a lawless sphere that can exist without consequences.
‘At the moment, there is only so much the gardai can do to deal with online dares and stunts; let’s enable them to do far more.’
This week, a leading alcohol and addiction prevention charity filed legal proceedings which, if accepted by French courts, would render the posting of Neknomination videos illegal. Resulting custodial sentences would amount to up to two years.
‘It’s clear that young people – some of them under the age of 18 – are being encouraged to drink excessive amounts of alcohol via the popularity of these games,’ Ms Childers added. ‘Next month; in six months’ time; next year – at some stage there will be another, newer drinking craze online. So let’s not continue to turn a blind eye, let’s tackle this head-on and prevent further tragedies.’
The MEP, who previously worked as a psychotherapist and is co-chair of the European Parliament Mental Health Interest Group, also said: ‘The lasting effects of our drinking culture can be seen woven into almost every strand of society.’
While discussing the issue on RTE Radio, Suzanne Costello of Alcohol Action Ireland previously warned: ‘Binge drinking is normalised and in this trend, celebrated.’ And Meas chief executive Fionnuala Sheehan has also said that ‘the posting of the images could appeal to and be taken up by vulnerable younger drinkers’.
Two deaths in Ireland were last month linked to Neknomination games.
Last May in Brussels, Ms Childers took part in the European Parliament’s inaugural alcohol awareness week, hosting a policy event entitled Time For Action: The Need For An Integrated EU Alcohol Strategy.