Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

MLAs to rumble in the 'jungle' as Northern Irish version of I'm a Celebrity is planned for Lough Neagh island

Signed up: Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill
Signed up: Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill
Possible location: Coney Island is tipped, along with Rams Island, for the show
Possible location: Coney Island is tipped, along with Rams Island, for the show

A Northern Ireland version of ITV jungle reality show I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here could be set to hit Ulster TV screens — featuring local politicians.

The bizarre small-screen proposal — which would see MLAs stranded on an island off Lough Neagh — is being considered by a top production company.

It has already been pitched to one major broadcaster, who has shown

a keen interest in the project.

But even if it is given the go-ahead, the show won’t air until 2015 due to timing issues.

It is being spearheaded by Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) and has already received interest from at least three MLAs, including Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

It could see the politicos swapping conferences for creepy crawlies and completing tasks to earn food, just like in the Australian jungle. The plan is to raise funds for Lough Neagh Rescue lifeboat service.

Abandon

Eimear Kearney, Marketing Officer at LNP told Sunday Life: “The event is a great opportunity to show people the beauty of Lough Neagh & Its Waterways, it is Northern Ireland s most spectacular hidden gem!”

The unspoilt Coney and Rams islands are two of the locations being considered for the survival series, which was originally pitched in 2010.

But an insurance problem forced the LNP, based in Ballyronan, Co Londonderry, to abandon the idea.

It is understood elected reps with constituencies touching the loughshore will be among those approached to take part.

Lough Neagh Partnership is refusing to reveal who has, or will be, approached.

But Sinn Fein’s Mid-Ulster Assembly Member Michelle O’Neill last night confirmed she has already signed up and has “no doubt” other MLAs would also be interested.

She told Sunday Life: “Yes, absolutely. I support anything to raise funds for Lough Neagh Rescue as they give up their time for free and provide a good service.

“I wouldn’t be keen on eating any insects though!”

NI21’s Basil McCrea could also be offered the chance to attempt the castaway lifestyle.

But the Lagan Valley Assembly member said he doubts he would be taking part.

“It certainly sounds like a fun and worthy challenge but I don’t think I will be taking part,” he told Sunday Life. “I just have too much on with the new party at the moment.”

Eimhear added: “We’ll be going easy on them, though, no spiders will have to be eaten, but we would like to see them buidling rafts, foraging for supper, and diving into mud baths to retrieve stars.”

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