New emergency legislation has been rushed through the Dáil in a move to close a potential loophole in Ireland's mental health laws.
The bill passed all stages in the Dáil and Seanad last night before being signed into law by President Mary McAleese.
It is designed to prevent 209 involuntarily detained patients from seeking court orders to discharge themselves from psychiatric hospital.
Speaking in the Dáil last night, Health Minister Mary Harney said the legislation was necessary because the outcome of a court ruling today could have serious implications for psychiatric patients.
The ruling relates to the involuntary detention of a woman at St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin.