AN artist has painted a mural of murdered journalist Lyra McKee in Belfast's city centre.

Emma Blake, and 21 other artists, took part in the annual Hit the North street art festival over the bank holiday weekend, blanketing most of Kent Street in new paintings.

Blake's mural of the tragic 29-year-old Belfast author, who was shot dead by dissident republicans during rioting in Londonderry last month, has already been drawing visitors today.

People have been stopping to take pictures with the mural, which also features words from a powerful letter she wrote to her 14-year-old self.

The letter, which has gained worldwide prominence since her death, spoke of her struggles as a gay teenager in Northern Ireland.

It contained the words: "It won't always be like this. It's going to get better".

The National:

Adam Turkington, the organiser of the festival, said Blake had been moved by McKee's death and wanted to pay tribute.

"Street art is always dialogue," he said.

"Writing on a wall is always political, whether you realise it or not.

"I think what's been really interesting is how you've seen that the aftermath of Lyra's death has played out in art on walls - whether it's the bloody hand prints on the office walls or whether it's people painting over the IRA murals in Derry. That's activism.

"Street art has its roots in activism and in anti-establishment-ism, but also in finding ways to communicate with each other about things that really are hard to talk about.

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"It's about aesthetic, it's about place-making. And especially in the context of Northern Ireland, where we have these very divisive murals, street art for me in this context is all about building a shared space and finding a place that people can co-exist.

"It's a very natural thing in a way that Lyra has been represented in this way at the festival and long may it continue."