Mapped: How contentious flags, murals and memorials blight communities across Northern Ireland


Data that I obtained from the Housing Executive revealed the proliferation of contentious flags, murals and memorials at its properties.

More than 200 paramilitary murals have been painted on Housing Executive properties while flags have been erected in over 200 different housing estates.

After receiving this information, I used Google Fusion tables to create a map showing the spread of divisive symbolism in many communities.

The red markers show estates with mostly loyalist symbols, the green represent republican, brown areas have paramilitary symbols and grey are neutral.


School buses and infographics

Blog, News, Portfolio

Bus incidents infographic3

How do you convey large amounts information in an engaging way with limited newspaper space?

Statistics can provide interesting news stories, but reams of data can be difficult to present in print.

There is also the danger of bombarding readers with so many figures that they just give up.

This was the familiar challenge for me when I put together a story on complaints and incidents recorded on school buses in Northern Ireland.

Through a Freedom of Information request, the north’s transport operator Translink disclosed details of more than 800 complaints and 75 accidents or injuries on school bus services.

The extensive data also included specific information on each individual incident and complaint including the location of bus services involved.

After sifting through and categorising the information, I used Photoshop to experiment with ways to display the details through an infographic.

The first attempt was less than successful. Squint and you might be able to see the text is supposed to look like a bus:

School bus from text

In the end I settled for the graphic at the start of this post.

The idea is simple, but presents the information in a more eye-catching way than a bland bullet point list.

With limited space in a busy Saturday paper, it helps to make the story stand out:

Web-based applications also provide opportunities to present stories in new ways that engage readers.

Here’s the same information in the form of a Google map:

And Datawrapper is perfect for creating simple charts and graphs. This helps to show how the number of complaints and incidents varies across Northern Ireland.

Pub and nightclub crime in Northern Ireland

News, Portfolio

After finishing a story for The Irish News on the scale of pub and nightclub crime across Northern Ireland, I compiled a map of the data using Google Fusion tables.

The FOI data shows the number of crimes recorded by police at or near every individual licensed premises during 2013.

The Irish News

Although Google Fusion wasn’t able to plot all of the points with perfect accuracy, the map does give an interesting overview of how pub and nightclub crime is spread across the north.

The largest markers and red points show where the most crimes were reported.

The late-night weekend violence plaguing north’s towns and cities

Blog, News, Portfolio

Irish News map4

Amid concerns over binge-drinking, anti-social behaviour and violence at weekends in Northern Ireland, I created a graphic for a story to show the scale of the problem.

The image is based on FOI figures detailing weekend violence (assaults, etc) recorded by police in each town and city.

It illustrates incidents that happened between 10pm and 6am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from October 2012 to September 2013.

I used Open Heatmap to plot the data before creating a print-friendly version in Photoshop.

I think it worked rather well to catch the reader’s eye and show the scale of the problem across the north of Ireland.

Weekend violence1

Here’s a Google map of the data: