New Irish laws signed by President Mary McAleese last will allow criminals with mental illnesses to be released back in to the community.

They will be released from the Criminal Mental Hospital under strict conditions.

The Irish insanity laws were amended on December 22 after complaints from the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board. They believe that a small number of patients are suitable for release.

The amendment to the law may made in 2006 means that the board will now have power to enforce conditions on the patients such as taking their medication after their release. Those patients being reviewed are people who were found not guilty due to insanity.

The former Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Brian McCracken, is the chairperson of the Review Board. In their annual report they said that the majority of patients detained under the 2006 act were no suitable for discharge.

Mr McCracken said, “But there are some whom the board would discharge if it could subject to enforceable conditions…The failure to amend the 2006 law meant that the board's considerations in relation to the discharge of some patients to the community with safeguards in place for the patient and the public has been, of necessity, severely curtailed.”