Funeral directors have welcomed a change in the law that means that bodies can be buried without coffins for the first time in more than 120 years.

The new regulations, approved by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, come into effect next month.

They are mainly designed to facilitate members of the Muslim faith, who are normally buried without a coffin if permitted by local law.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Graham Gleasure of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors said the move was welcome, as the law had been in place since 1888.

He said it was ridiculous that the law had gone back that far, and had made it illegal for people of the Muslim faith to have burials according to their beliefs.

"It's nice that these people can have their own tradition, their own belief and we can work with that."

Mr Gleasure said bodies would be contained in coffins for the duration of a funeral service for health and safety reasons, and then it can be removed and placed in a shroud for the burial.

He also said that it would be up to each individual cemetery and local environmental health officers to decide whether they will allow uncoffined burials or not.