The Director of the Child Care Law Clinic at University College Cork, Dr Conor O'Mahony, who has accused the State of treating survivors of sexual abuse in day schools with contempt, has been appointed as Special Rapporteur on Child Protection.

He has been appointed by the Government for a three-year term and succeeds Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the first holder of the post, who has served since 2006.

In a statement welcoming the appointment, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, said Dr O'Mahony has enjoyed a distinguished career in the area of child law, children's rights and constitutional law.

The minister said she looked forward to working with him in his new role.

Dr O'Mahony is best known for assisting Louise O'Keeffe's successful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after the Supreme Court rejected her claim for State compensation for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Leo Hickey, her then principle at Dunderrow National School in Co Cork.

Today's announcement of his appointment noted that it followed an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service.

Ms Zappone said the new selection process she had put in place "ensures a transparent and open procedure" for the Special Rapporteur's selection and appointment.

Dr O'Mahony holds a PhD from the University of Wales, Aberstwyth, and has lectured in UCC since 2005. He has been invited to address sessions of the Constitutional Convention, the Citizens' Assembly and a number of joint Oireachtas committees.

In her statement, Minister Zappone also thanked Dr Shannon for his dedication and commitment to the work in this area. She said the child welfare and protection matters raised in each of his 11 annual reports are relevant to a broad span of Government departments and statutory agencies.

"I consider that his reports have provided important input into the development and review of child protection policy and legislation and have provided an objective and independent expert view of the child protection system in Ireland," Ms Zappone added.