Insanity law reform sought

 

The Fianna Fail spokesman on justice, Mr John O'Donoghue, is to seek Government time for his private member's Bill to reform the law on criminal insanity, writes Deaglan de Breadun, Political Reporter.

The Criminal Law (Mental Disorder) Bill 1996 provides retrospectively for supervision and restrictions on the movements of persons who have been found "guilty but insane in murder cases and subsequently released.

Mr O'Donoghue said if the Government provided time it would expedite passage of the legislation. He pointed out that private member's time was limited and there were numerous items of business ahead of his Bill.

The Bill also seeks to provide the courts with an alternative verdict of "manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility". At present, where a person is found guilty but insane of murder, they can only be detained at the pleasure of the Government.

Under Mr O'Donoghue's proposal, it would be open to the court to impose a custodial sentence up to life and/or psychiatric treatment.