The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean Clancy, has publicly acknowledged what he called the hurt, tragedy and atrocities perpetrated against anti-Treaty republicans during the Civil War.

He was speaking today at the re-dedication of the National Army plot at Glasnevin Cemetery.

In reference to events, such as those at Ballyseedy in Kerry - where Republican prisoners were tied to land mines and blown up by the National Army, and extra judicial executions of Republican prisoners, General Clancy said he felt it was crucial to acknowledge the hurt, the tragedy and indeed the atrocities perpetrated on those in the Republican tradition. They, he said, had fought for an Ireland they believed in.

Today's event at Glasnevin saw the unveiling of a new monument specifically dedicated to the soldiers of the National Army who died in the Civil War.

The fact that no such monument has existed before now has been a source of criticism from several quarters.

Families of those who died during the war and who attended the event welcomed both the unveiling of the monument by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Tánaiste Micheál Martin and the re-dedication of the prevously neglected plot.

The centrepiece is the monument to Michael Collins, first Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, and the names of some 160 National Army soldiers are carved in stone on the perimeter.

Prior to the ceremony, there was no monument in Ireland specifically dedicated to the soldiers of the National Army who fought against the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.

In all, between 700 and 800 members of the army died during the Civil War.

Descendants and family members of those who died, including relatives of Michael Collins, also attended.

Read more: The forgotten Civil War soldiers of Glasnevin Cemetery

The rededication of the memorial to the National Army soldiers enables their memory to be rehabilitated, the ceremony heard.

Weeks after the war ended, on 3 August 1923, the Oireachtas passed legislation that led to the creation of the modern-day Irish Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann.

The rededication event for the forgotten fallen of the National Army, which had already adopted the name Óglaigh na hÉireann during the Civil War, took place on the Sunday prior to the centenary of that date.

"It is appropriate then, in the spirit of real inclusiveness, of ethical remembering, and with a full desire to deal with some of the more uncomfortable aspects of our shared history, that we remember some of 810 uniformed members of Óglaigh na hÉireann who gave their lives in the service of the state during the tragic and critical period at the foundation of our democracy," Lt Gen Clancy told the ceremony.

"For far too long there has been no memorial of any kind, nor any complete listing of the National Army war dead.

"Indeed, this year represents perhaps the last real opportunity to rectify that."

The remains of some 180 of the 810 soldiers who died serving in the National Army are buried at the plot in Glasnevin cemetery.

"Sources at the archives show that the average soldier buried here was in his early 20s, was unmarried and from a working-class background," said Lt Gen Clancy.

"Many had previously served in the IRA during the War of Independence, some even in the 1916 rising, many others had served in the British Army, underlying yet again how complex is the weave of Irish history."

The chief of staff highlighted the "poignant example" of two young Belfast-born Dublin-raised brothers - Frederick (18) and Gerald McKenna (16) - who were buried in Glasnevin after being killed together in action in Cork in August 1922 only a month after joining the National Army.

"Whatever the often very legitimate reasons our forebears may have had for forgetting in the intervening 100 years, I think it's appropriate now that I as the 32nd Chief of Staff of Óglaigh na hÉireann should finally take this opportunity to rehabilitate their memory," said Lt Gen Clancy.

With additional reporting by PA