'Just asking questions' is no defence of stoking anti-immigration feeling

False information linking refugees and asylum-seekers to crimes have been found to be baseless

A series of anti-immigration protests have been held across Ireland recently, prompting counter-demonstrations. Picture:

Some years before the Great Famine sent one million Irish people across the Atlantic, rumours began spreading about the growing Catholic community in New England.

In 1834, a novice nun named Rebecca Reed left the local Ursuline convent in Charlestown, just outside Boston, and began spreading false allegations that the sisters were trying to kidnap her. When a nun later did leave, it confirmed all the worst rumours in the district.

Nuns were murdering people ...