President Michael D Higgins has warned that the most difficult commemorations in the 'Decade of Centenaries' for Ireland are still to come.

In the coming years, the country is to remember the independence struggle, the Civil War and the foundation of a new, independent state.

However, speaking at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, he said it "is only by acknowledging, sometimes revising, but always remembering, the events of our past that we can begin to build a future".

The President also said: "We must acknowledge the brutality of that struggle, the viciousness that was unleashed and the brutal tactics that were employed by both sides."

He said families were "cleaved apart" by the Civil War and pointed out his own father opposed the Treaty while his uncle supported it.

PresidentHiggins also said the seeking a more comprehensive memory has led to the focus on the central role of women during the events of a century ago.