Journalism standards in Ireland and Britain appear to have reached a new low with an anonymously-sourced article in the Daily Mirror.

The article claims the late Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and later a key figure in the peace process, was a pedophile and British informer.

The story, written by Nick Sommerlad, claims that “the British authorities covered up a case of child sex abuse by a senior figure in the IRA in order to use the damning evidence to turn him into a double agent."

The only source given? “Military intelligence sources."

If there is one suspect source in all of journalism it is military intelligence in Britain, which has a decades' long history of planting bogus stories in all too willing publications.

They now appear to have come up with one that beggars belief, even in anti-Sinn Fein hotbeds in Ireland judging by the reaction.

Of course the late Cahill is not around to defend himself any more, and there is much more in the report from “a source” claiming Cahill was caught in a car in Belfast with a 14-year old girl and was turned into an informer.

Cahill, who received a death sentence, later commuted to life, in the 1940s due to his IRA activity, was actually living in the Irish Republic in the 1970s at the time and was very much a wanted man in the North, but that didn't stop this “story” being published.

Cahill’s grand niece Mairia is currently pursuing her own case against an alleged rapist in the IRA who she says abused her when she was 16.

Which is why some military chappie decided it was a good time to smear her grand uncle, seeing as the issue has been front page news.

This is what passes for journalism these days: “The source said, ‘The pictures clearly identified both Cahill and his victim. Her father would have killed him if he had found out. He was never prosecuted and instead the pictures were used to turn him. He was a prized asset.’”

No attribution other than that, turning a legitimate hero of the peace process, who ended the violence in Northern Ireland, into not just a pedophile but an informer too.

Joe Cahill was so important to the peace process that the IRA ceasefire would never have happened unless he was allowed into America to convince the hardline elements here.

It took some persuading before President Clinton, after looking at Cahill’s “resume,” let him in, but there was no other more trusted figure.

Strangely, the Daily Mirror seems to step on its own story when it adds, “But a military source said, ‘This kind of thing has been unthinkable for many years now. There were some very questionable techniques deployed in the 1970s but they were put a stop to very soon afterwards.’

"Several secretive military intelligence units operated in Northern Ireland at the time, including 14th Intelligence Company, also known as the Det, and several special collation teams.”

Luckily for the Mirror they seem to have senior sources everywhere and add this about the accusation: “A senior IRA source revealed that there was suspicion that he (Cahill) was a tout – slang for informer.”

Senior sources everywhere! Wonderful reporting.

What’s up next from fantasy journalism? “Senior source says Gerry Adams is an alien?”

It is a sad day for basic journalism values.