Northern Ireland’s potholes mapped: Worst-hit areas as reports reach five-year high for January

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Pothole reports are soaring, but the Department for Infrastructure has warned that budget cuts are severely limiting repairs.

Last month was the worst January for potholes across Northern Ireland in the past five years, exclusive analysis of official data shows.

The Department for Infrastructure said there had been “under-investment in the maintenance of the road network for many years, resulting in the deterioration we are now experiencing”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A spokesperson said budget cuts meant only the highest priority defects were currently being repaired.

There were 4,089 potholes reported across Northern Ireland last month, more than double the number reported in January 2022.

A third (33%) have yet to be assessed by repairs teams, more than half (55%) have been either dealt with or assessed as not meeting the threshold for repair and the rest (11%) are scheduled for repair, as of February 2.

Newry, Mourne and Down had the most potholes reported last month, at 563, followed by Ards and North Down with 496 and Antrim and Newtownabbey with 489.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad


And with February traditionally the month with the most pothole reports, according to analysis of the past eight years of data, motorists and cyclists could be facing a bumpy few weeks ahead.

You can find out where potholes have been flagged so far this year in your area, using our interactive map below.

How many potholes are being reported in my area of Northern Ireland?

Data published by Open Data NI reveals the exact location of each pothole reported in 2023 so far to DfI Roads, the road authority which is responsible for highway maintenance across the whole of Northern Ireland.

Explore the data in our interactive map.


Red pointers show the potholes awaiting repair, while blue pointers show potholes which have either been repaired or did not meet the threshold for repairs. Yellow pointers are those potholes which have not yet been assessed. Click on a pointer to find out when it was reported.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What are the authorities saying?

A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “There has been historical under-investment in the maintenance of the road network for many years resulting in the deterioration we are now experiencing. More recently because of budget cuts the Department has had to reduce its routine maintenance activities to a ‘limited service’ which prioritises delivery of essential services for maintaining public safety.

“Consequently, only the highest priority defects across the road network are currently being repaired. Regular inspections of the road network are continuing and defects which meet the intervention level will be taken forward for repair.”

Which areas of Northern Ireland get the most potholes?

Some parts of Northern Ireland get far more potholes reported than others, analysis bythe News Lettershows.

More than 11,000 reports of potholes were made to the authorities in Northern Ireland in 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ards and North Down was the council area with the most potholes reported last year, with 1,731.

And it also had the most pothole reports once the size of the local road network was taken into account.

Ards and North Down had 148.6 reported potholes per 100km of road network, compared to just 21.8 per 100km in Derry City and Strabane.


The spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said people might be more likely to report potholes in some areas than in others.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The spokesperson said: “In any given year, the number of potholes/surface defects reported depends on a number of factors including the appetite of the public to report.

“It can’t be assumed that the numbers reported necessarily reflect on the relative condition of the network compared to other years or in other Council areas. It should also be noted that the figures are for the number of pothole/defects reported, so in theory one pothole or defect can be reported several times, particularly in densely populated areas or where there are higher levels of traffic.

“On inspection many do not meet the criteria for repair.”

Why do some winters have more pothole reports than others?

There tend to be more potholes recorded after particularly snowy and icy winters and fewer after milder ones, analysis shows. Snow and ice break up road surfaces as the water expands when it freezes and then contracts when it thaws.


Pothole reports were particularly high in the early months of 2018 and again in 2021, with both years seeing colder winters.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Generally, well maintained roads in good condition suffer little damage from severe weather. But where the surface is ageing, or has been damaged by roadworks, water can penetrate into small cracks and other defects in the surface. When the water freezes it expands, opening up the cracks. During daytime thaws the ice melts and more water seeps in, before the next freeze. Repeated freeze thaw cycles gradually open cracks and create cavities and the surface deteriorates very quickly.

How can I report or make a complaint about a pothole in Northern Ireland?

If you have spotted a pothole on the roads, you can report it via the NI Direct website.

If your vehicle or property has been damaged due to a problem with a road or street and you believe the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is responsible, you can make a claim for compensation. The same applies if you have suffered a personal injury. Find out more about the process of making a claim on the NI Direct website.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.