by Christopher HodappNOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
The Irish Times and other sources are reporting that a fire broke out at the historic Dublin headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Ireland this evening (New Years Eve) at about 5:30 PM local time on New Years Eve. The building was supposed to be empty at that time, and fire officials suspect arson.
Witnesses said that a man in his 30s was seen climbing through a broken window into the building and setting fire to a Christmas tree that was displayed in the building's library. The fire brigade arrived at 5:40 and quickly extinguished the blaze.
A bizarre anti-vaccination message was also painted on the sidewalk outside.
From the Irish Times:
The graffiti is understood to be reference to mRNA, the technology used in some Covid-19 vaccines.The Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland grand secretary Philip Daleydescribed the attack as “very serious” and “completely out of the blue”.However, he said there had been previous demonstrations outside the hall and other Masoni halls in Ireland by anti-vaccination campaigners.“The view is that we created the virus and we are part of the new world order and we have to be stopped. It’s ridiculous stuff,” he said.
An unidentified man was hospitalized with spinal injuries after falling at the scene. No one is saying yet whether this person is under suspicion for the blaze, or merely an innocent bystander.
The magnificent Freemasons Hall on Molesworth Street in Dublin has been the home of the Grand Lodge since 1860. While the fire was mostly contained to one room, the library is the perhaps the worst of all possible places to be damaged.
UPDATE: January 4, 2022, 3:40PM
The following statement was issued this morning by the Grand Secretary for the Grand lodge of Ireland:
Dear Brethren,Thank you for the many emails, texts, and calls offering support and assistance following the arson attack at Freemasons’ Hall. It is impossible, at this time, to reply individually due to the large volume, however we really appreciate your support.The insurance assessors have been working over the weekend to assess the damage, but it will take some time to complete this. Our first objective is to get Freemasons’ Hall open and operational. It is hoped that electricity and gas will be restored within the next 24 hours and the clean-up has commenced.Although the damage is extensive, it is repairable, and work will commence over the coming weeks. The books and the paintings in the café / library have suffered smoke damage and a plan is in place to protect them prior to restoration.I would ask for your patience in dealing with administrative matters at this time. It may take a little longer to get a reply as our computers and telephone services have not yet been restored.Sincerely & fraternally,Philip A.J. DaleyGrand Secretary
Meanwhile, two photos of some of the interior damage to the library and cafe have been circulated on Facebook without attribution. If anyone knows who took these images, let me know and I'll add their credit.