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Man burns himself because of family law

category derry | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Tuesday October 26, 2004 21:19author by Hilaal Report this post to the editors

Inquest told Wolfe & Co., solicitors Skibbereen inferno victim died from severe burns

When Colette McCarthy, solicitor, of Wolfe & Co., solicitors Skibbereen , West Cork took a family law case on behalf of Mrs Catherine Harnedy of Union Hall, she acted "appropriately", according to Irish Family Law but now a man is dead due to self-inflicted severe burns and bronchial pneumonia because, in his own dying words, because her office, "cost him his children".

After his marriage broke down last March Mr Harnedy fell fowl of the Family Law circus that is a major cause of male suicide in Ireland. This heartless, backroom version of a sexual aparthide law is practised out of sight of the public in judges chambers up and down the country. Outright lies are told by clients and solicitors alike who use it's secrecy to tell porkies that would make the devil blush. Lies, cruelty and coldness that drive many men to suicide. Mr Harnedy simply set fire to himself in the offices of those he blamed for his loss barely two months after he and his wife parted ways.

Last year the vast majority of suicides in Ireland were male. Many more male suicides were victims of family law and of solicitors who acted "appropriately". Other men, faced with marriage and relationship break up understood they would not have any chance of a fair hearing before such courts and didn't even contest access to their children. Others were thrown out of their homes on false claims, accepted, without investigation, by the Family Law system. If a woman says it, it is true! The implication being that while all men are brutes all women never lie.

Women of course need protection from brutes but many more men who end up taking their lives need protection from liars who may or may not be their spouse or their spouses solicitor.

Colette McCarthy had never spoken to the man who burned himself to death in her office. She admits she represented his wife and corresponded with his solicitor but never once did she communicate with John Harnedy himself. Would it have made a difference if she did? Who knows, but at least she can sleep sound in the knowledge she acted "appropriately" under this wonderful law.

This is family law. Your fate, your future and access to your children is decided by cold hearted and aloof practitioners of the Law. Is it any wonder men commit suicide to such an extent in Ireland?

"This office cost me my wife and children", were the dying words of John Harnedy , referring to Wolfe & Co., Solicitors Skibbereen and Ms Colette McCarthy in particular. "They are trying to take my children away from me - that's why I did it", he said, as he lay dying on the floor .

On the positive side, Mr Harnedys wife now has complete and uncontested access to his and her children and full possession of their family home. Colette McCarthy is also sure to receive her full fee for her Professional job. What God will make of her "appropriate" behaviour on her final day is fully another matter.

Related Link:
author by Victim of Family Lawpublication date Tue Oct 26, 2004 21:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“today’s shocking news in cork, ireland of the father of three children, who died this tuesday morning, after dousing himself in petrol and setting himself alight in a solicitors office, is horrifying and very very sad”
said ray kelly, founder of usfi
“how many more desperate acts must our families endure before we change this shameful irish family law system
-which foists fatherlessness on an industrial basis- and
causes wholesale damage to families"

“our thoughts and prayers are with this man’s family”
said david whyte, chairperson of usfi
“we urge justice minister mcdowell and those engaged in family law
to work together to end this policy of depriving children and extended families of their fathers"

press contacts:
unmarried and separated fathers of ireland

ray kelly, founder, 086 887 9444

david whyte, chairperson, 086 261 2400

pat o donovan, pro, 087 935 7571

Cork man set himself on fire inside solicitors' office
Niall O'Connor (c) Irish Times 25/05/2004

A man is in a critical condition in hospital after setting himself on fire inside a solicitors' office.

The incident occurred at Wolfe and Co Solicitors on Market Street in the west Cork town of Skibbereen.

The 44-year-old man, who is from the area, walked into the office shortly before 11 a.m. yesterday. It is understood he was engaged in a family law dispute.

During a conversation with office staff, the man doused himself in petrol and ignited the fuel - he was immediately engulfed in flame.

Gardaí and emergency services arrived within minutes, and the man was brought to Cork University Hospital.

A spokesman for the hospital said the man was being treated at the burns unit, and was in a critical condition.

It is understood the solicitors' firm was representing the man's wife in a custody battle.

He had spent a number of years in England, and had recently returned.

A Garda source confirmed that the man was engaged in a long-running family dispute.

"This is one of those tragic cries for help by someone who couldn't find a way out of his situation.

"It's just lucky that no one else was injured in the fire. People at the scene and gardaí reacted very quickly and stopped the fire from spreading - it could have been a lot worse."

Mr Adrian Healy, a councillor on Skibbereen Town Council, works only a few feet from Wolfe and Co Solicitors, in the local post office.

"We went out on to the street when we heard the sirens, and we saw the smoke coming out the door.

"It is very frightening to think that this could happen in our town and to friends of ours. I am particularly shocked as I knew the man - it is tragic," he said.

The office of Wolfe and Co Solicitors was closed "due to unforeseen circumstances" yesterday, and a spokesman for the practice was unavailable for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Law Society was also UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT.

© The Irish Times

Related Link:
author by Quote from Carol Coulterpublication date Tue Oct 26, 2004 23:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Individuals who have had personal experience of the family courts and lawyers specialising in the area all have stories to tell, some of them horrifying.

Men's groups in particular have been vociferous in their claims that the family courts routinely discriminate against men, depriving them of custody and access to their children, and imposing unreasonable demands on them to support their former spouses.

Certainly this reporter has been told of a number of individual decisions which, on the face of it, appear unfair and unjustifiable"

Carol Coulter, Irish Times Legal Affairs Correspondent, 31 Dec 03

author by Alpublication date Tue Oct 26, 2004 23:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the family law that exists in this country is so one sided it beggers belief. Fathers that have done nothing but try to be good parents are treated like criminals and punished for no reason

author by P O'Rpublication date Wed Oct 27, 2004 03:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't want to be insensitive toward anyone, but would the fact that this man went to the extremes he went to not indicate that he must have been mentally unstable already? The rational thing to do would be for him to stay alive and fight his case throught the courts. I'm assuming that if he had a worthwhile case a good lawyer would get him a reasonable compromise.
Would that not be far better, and more rational than throwing it all away by killing himself. That is just an act of cowardice.

author by WolfCatpublication date Wed Oct 27, 2004 11:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Since, "the family courts routinely discriminate against men, depriving them of custody and access to their children, and imposing unreasonable demands on them to support their former spouses", according to Carol Coulter, Irish Times Legal Affairs Correspondent, there was no point in this poor man wasting any more of his resources or emotional energy trying to "fight his case through the courts". There are no more "courts" , there is only one court and it is secret and for him it was over. There are no "reasonable compromises" available for men under Irish Family Law, especially for an unemployed man. Appealing these decisions in the Circuit Court is useless as his lawyer would have advised him.

Who knows what lies were told and what emotional trickery and bullying used to make this man so emotionally upset and drive him to this desperate end. If the same were done to a woman there would be all the sympathy in the world for the poor distressed and traumatised woman. Wht an outcry there would be if women were killing themselves by the hundreds every year due to systems like this?

We certainly wouldnt have idiots like you "P O'R" suggesting it was an act of ,"cowardice", to douse yourself in petrol.
Were the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire in Hanoi as a protest against the US armys murder of four million people in Viet Nam also "cowards" ?

"Certainly this reporter has been told of a number of individual decisions which, on the face of it, appear unfair and unjustifiable" ....Carol Coulter.

So has this reporter! In fact I stood in that very same backroom in Skibbereen with the same lawyer and judge and saw the same "(in)justice" dispensed, so I know what I'm talking about. I can't however tell you about it as this would be a "crime". A crime to expose how they operate their system of social and personal destruction on men and society.

So what do you do when your dignity, family and character are shredded by aggressive and heartless lawyers, so they can win a case and make a name for themselves?

I personally don't think this man did the right thing. I would prefer he were still alive and working against this unjust system, even if it was from inside a prison cell. It was a desperate act caused by a desperate situation. Some might yet take a more aggressive attitude in the secrecy of that smelly little back room . However, the court is generally over and the case decided before the full injustice and inhumanity of it hits home. I wonder why he didn't go back to that room on the day of a court sitting with his gallon of petrol instead of into Wolfe &Co., Solicitors ? Perhaps he wasn't sure if Ms McCarthy would be there?

author by Mary Jpublication date Wed Oct 27, 2004 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets be clear on this, women are still the victims of male violence in most domestic breakups. There is no vast Garda/Judge/feminist conspiracy to discriminate against men.

author by WolfCatpublication date Wed Oct 27, 2004 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Mary J" - Men's groups are not campaigning for the protection of men who are violent towards their children or their wives. That would be stupid and unforgivable. This is about fair play for men iand their children in Family Law courts and for the reworking of its structures that leave many men so desperate they become suicidal.

What you see with the few hundred men a year who kill themselves is only the tip of the iceberg of isolation and injustice that our legal system is creating. Many thousands live lives of quiet desperation and loneliness.

It is not a case of women's rights versus men's rights. Although if I were a woman who went to a lawyer for legal representation and I was assured that under the Family Law system I could get a very good deal while my husband would be shafted I guess I too might capitulate to the urge to win at all costs. Everyone wants to win. I might not even realise until after the court case what it had put my partner through but by then it would be too late and any contact or effort to do justice to my partner would nullify the entire agreement achieved.

You claim that, "women are still the victims of male violence in most domestic break-ups". How do you make this out? I am not working in the field of marriage breakdown but I have close first hand experience of six cases of marriage breakdown, including this tragic case. In none of these cases was there a single incident of violence by the men against the women. None. The six marriages broke down for various reasons around the issue of the wives becoming bored with the realtionships and wanting to move on. In fact one wife who had become bored with her marriage drove over her husband's foot with her car and told him she would stab him if she had the strength! In court she later claimed she was, "in fear of him". She was in fact herself violent and emotionally unstable.

When a woman goes to court to claim maintenance , and to get custody of her and her husbands children, her lawyer will tell her that her case will be greatly improved if she claims violence or simply "fear of violence". No proof required , as the court is secret. Like I said , if I were involved in a custody dispute where the "facts" could be manipulated in my favour I could probably be cajoled to do so too, I don't know.

Do you have any evidence of your claim that, "women are still the victims of male violence in most domestic break-ups"? Or is that just one of the myths being circulated to justify this medieval legal structure? If such incidents exist they should be take out into open court and the brute or brut-ess should be convicted of the obviously criminal act and then they could go back into the secrecy of the Family Law court to sort out custody ,etc. There must be a burden of proof on those who make such claims or it will and possibly has become a tool for inequality in the secret court.

If these courts had to be conducted in public view the urge among lawyers and plaintiffs to tell the truth would be greatly increased - and they know it! Are women afraid of the truth "in most cases of marriage breakdown" ?

Indeed it would be to the protection and any future partner such alleged brutish men might have that their criminal violence against their wife should be documented in open court, don't you think? Or should we harken to rumour and conspiracy theory?

author by Scottypublication date Thu Oct 28, 2004 03:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just as I thought. All the problems encountered by men are the fault of those pesky feminists and their fancy, smooth-talking lawyers (who are all shape-shifting lizards).
Dont forget to wear your tinfoil hat in case they are snooping!

author by Liam O'Donavanpublication date Fri Oct 29, 2004 00:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Scotty" - The women who utilise the corrupt Family Law Court system are not Feminists. Neither are their lawyers, even if they are female. To exploit or corrupt the law on behalf of a woman for the purpose of a legal victory and selfish interests is not Feminist. You deliberately or inanely misrepresent this serious issue that affects men, women and most of all children by suggesting it is anything to do with Feminism. You seriously insult Feminism to equate it with these, as you put it, "shape-shifting lizard" lawyers. You also seriously overestimate the self same lawyers to suggest they are either, "Fancy" or "Smooth talking", especially in this specific case where "dowdy and bumbling" would be more apt adjectives. Nonetheless, a monkey could win against a man in a Family Law Court : even a monkey without a cocaine habit !

author by A. Kellypublication date Fri Nov 12, 2004 01:00author email ak at ireland dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very interesting article and probably long forgotten now. I

believe the journalists are the only way we can move forward on all accounts to changing these outdated laws.

The lawyers will not change it, they have too much to loose financally with the on-going fighting between couples.

The laws, in my opinion, have to change before they come infront of a judge.

It takes years for final separation to even happen, meanwhile the couple live under the same roof day-in day-out, faced with emotional overload.

If people can stand back from a situation it becomes much clearer but these poor couples have to endure the emotional turmoil of the inevidable separation plus the fact that the state will not recognise their pleas until their financial holdings are sorted.

I often wonder when lawyers say to these people, "under no circumstances leave the family home", is it for their own security i.e. that they will at least have their bill paid in the end no matter what it costs the couple, the children and everyone involved.

The lawyers will not change the law, it is far too late when it comes before a judge, the only medium left is the media. People are desparate for these things to change but nobody is doing anything about it.

author by Juliapublication date Fri Nov 12, 2004 16:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If this situation is to change, there is need for a strong mens movement to take it on. Journalists can help, but men themselves need to organise more strongly around this issue. It is good that women are free to give evidence against a husband or partner without him being in court, in cases where she has suffered physical or emotional abuse, or the threat or fear of this. If this freedom continues to be abused, as appears to happen in some cases, sooner or later some law reform think tank will take it away, and we are back to square one.
Better to act now to build in safe guards to make it a more reliable system. In the long term, this reliability is something for which the womens movement should be working too.

author by Alpublication date Fri Nov 12, 2004 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I dont know hoe this happened but why are we talking about domestic violence? This man was not violent towards his family. He became so frustrated with the system that he couldnt take it anymore.
The comment about giving evidence without your husband being there is now mute. Under European legislation it is now not possible to obtain an interum-barring order as a basic right in Ireland is the right to defend yourself and approach the court. Interim and protection orders went against that.
As a garda I can say that there is no system or plot against men. The system of family law is just so one sided against the man. The original family laws were drafted at a time when women were left with no protection against either husbands or boyfriends that walked out and left them children or not so the system was stacked from the start with only women in mind. Mens rights were not a consideration at that time. Little has changed still. An unmarried father is not a guardian of his own child without fighting in court. The mother, on breaking up, has automatic custody. For a man to get custody the woman would have to be a chronic drug addict in prison and completely disease riddled, and thats only to give him a fighting chance. Only the person with custody can apply for a maintanance hearing so if the mother doesnt she can extort whatever she wants out of him or wait a few years and then have him screwed in court for not paying. A man can be put on a birth cert without his consent and then be liable for maintanance until a test is carried out but the mother can fight against the test. When deciding maintanance in court, his earnings are considered, hers usually are not. The state benefits she claims are not considered. In many cases where maintanance is awarded and paid the women has no additional expences from her own pocket as the child is covered through welfare/childrens allowance and his maintanance.
I know I sound like a bitter git but I know this system like the back of my hand, I have seen hundreds of cases as a Garda and have had my own 2 year battle as a single father.

author by Michelle Clarke - Social Justice and Ethics - Pleasepublication date Sat Jan 01, 2005 02:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please let us not forget the trauma of Family Law, on men, women and children.

The man who died on 26th October 2004 was in severe emotional and mental pain.

For men who feel alienated from the Family Law system and particularly with regard to loss of rights regarding their children, let 2005 be a year to improve Fathers Rights and most importantly look to the 'Rights of the Children'. Both the mother and father are responsible in this regard.

Think of the comment by a Judge last year when a Judge referred to the courts as 'being an Armageddon for Children'.

Look to representative groups like Oceanhorse, Parent Equality.

Bob Geldof has recently been involved in a series of TV programmes on the topic - seek out any reports or links.

Likewise John Waters is very proactive.

Marital break-down is tough, painful for all concerned and to be avoided if at all possible.


Marcus Aurelius

'Accept the things to which fate binds you. And love the people with whom fate brings you together, BUT DO SO WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART'

Happy New Year


author by Michelle Clarke - Social Justice and Ethics - Pleasepublication date Tue Jan 04, 2005 00:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Minister Brennan - at last someone is prepared to examine the question relating to one of the most oppressed groups in Ireland. Single Fathers are deemed to form an oppressed group.

Today's Irish Independent has the headline 'Geldof, the father of a new British Revolution'. Yes, it takes Geldof to challenge an outdated family law system in the UK, a system that clearly fails to keep pace with the Social pace. Let's not forget that 'Justice delayed is Justice Denied.

Extract: Irish Independent.
'As the law stands, a separated Father has no automatic right to guardianship of his offspring, no right to inclusion of his name on the birth certificate and cannot insist on access to let alone, custody of his child'

The Family law courts in Ireland and the UK are not deemed to be friendly to Fathers. Social services also may be found to be biased.

Recommendation from Independent:

Paul Anderson, Forever Fathers: 074 9132438
Treoir: National Information for Unmarried Parents. (14 Gandon House Square, IFSC, Dublin 1.
Amen: Organisation concerned with Father's rights. (St. Anne's Resource Centre, Railway Street, Navan, Co. Meath)

Time to take up the cudgel along with Minister Brennan and get the law changed.......


author by Jack Russell - Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Tue Jan 04, 2005 00:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am glad, Minister the Dwarf Brennan, is making slight inroads to bring about some Natural Justice to single fathers in Ireland. I feel this Christmas was not a happy one for some of these parents even though it is the season of Good Will.

Michelle, your article was quite good, but I am going to go a little bit deeper. This problem of heartache has been around from the formation of this state and now in the year 2005 - the old saying it is never too late may apply.

The article today in the Irish Examiner said there would be shouts from all sectors of society if the cause was that of Gays, Feminists,Travellers, Ethnic minorities etc. I am all for people's rights especially in relation to inheritance tax i.e. homosexuals (partner in affair situation) but for me that is as far it goes. The nucleus of any decent society are male/female and they create enough problems of their own when the marriage breaks down. It should be a public outcry for years but now seeing Minister the Dwarf Brennan has something to prove (since Bertie gave him the cold shoulder) and looking over his shoulder at the way he tackled Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta - Seamus will want to make a name for himself now and I hope he does.

I am sure Bertie the Socialist or McCreevy or McDaid (ex. Minister for Fun) or Mary Harney's partner had no problem gaining access to their children. There are thousands of men out there in social purgatory and they have to apply for access to see their own flesh and blood. This is not good enough.

Control/power over is the only way I can describe the birth certificate issue. For the mother to choose to exclude the father's name is real power. It is power over the man and the child. It is not just.

By the way Devil Dog out there I nearly forgot. I get the signal of a PD (Progressive Dicks). Now let me tell you a simple story - you foolish little devil........Kevin O'Higgins (NAZI!!!) died in the arms of Eoin MacNeill (Grandfather to the Mad Mullah) who cannot even build a house properly. The Old IRA shot him almost 10 years after the Civil War coming back from a Hurling Match. I couldn't imagine Kevin O'Higgins dying in my arms. Would you be proud Devil, if he died in yours!!!

Jack Russell


Cicero (Springs of Roman Wisdom)

author by R. - Org of Logical Peoplepublication date Fri Feb 10, 2006 18:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The vilification of the lawyer acting on behalf of the wife in this case is astounding.

She is legally bound NOT to contact or have ANY communication with the respondent, ie, the husband.

This is a sad case, but I agree with one of your other commentators, that self-immolation is evidence of an unbalanced mind. It is tragic, but under no circumstances the solicitor's fault.

author by Lilithpublication date Tue Nov 06, 2007 20:50author email universalchild27 at hotmail dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is now 2007 and we still have secret courts here and in UK.

It is the lawyers who cause the most trouble- because in their greed for more money- they keep the case going and pit the partners against each other and use the children as pawns.

I am researching now for 12 yrs after my first visit to one of these Perjury Palaces.

It is all a set up and the sooner parents realise this and stop using lawyers the better.

If you are a real victim of domestic violence- you will be squashed like a bug.

It is now clear that an innocent parent will be the one who suffers as all agents to the court know that the innocent will keep fighting for justice---- and they will make a fortune from that misery.

Violence will create more money in the future too.

Oh the elite are way ahead of people in comatosed state in Eire and UK.

The judges are even worse allowing their personal inner children loose on parents and children using their THREAT THERAPY from USA - Richard Gardner- paedophile who committed suicide in 2003 when the net began to close in on him. But his theories continue to be taught and used in secret by Judges, social workers etc.

And why not-??? There are no witnesses to the abuse of children and adults anyway.

Also these agents of the state are unaccountable.

Carol Coulter is reporting a little, but one has to ask- are the cases pre selected for her.

No where do I see the truth of what happens in the media.

Oh I almost forgot- WE ARE GAGGED.

It is OK to print this as my case is not

author by Catherinepublication date Tue Nov 06, 2007 21:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The one thing that is long overdue is to open up the secret family law courts to the media.

Then we can see what is really happening.

Holding the court in camera is not in the statute books but judges etc use the excuse of protecting the childs identity. RUBBISH!!!!!!!!!!!!

They are hiding behind the children and covering up the scam that is taking place.

Some are freemasons and some are Opus Dei.

That is why some women get told to go home and obey your husband as you belong to him.

If you refuse, the judge can order you home to sleep there at night and leave in the morning, but to break free...oh no....wait for 4 years first.

You might get maintainance or not depending on his mood.

You could even be labelled a witch and too powerful for a woman.!!!

Yes, it is all true.

You can even have your property taken off you illegally and no one will ever know.

Anyone reading this knows now, of course.

Please do not feed the Gremlins- Judges, Lawyers etc.

Represent yourself if you need to go to court as it is so easy.

author by Child custodianpublication date Wed Nov 07, 2007 08:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with your view that the operation of the family courts needs public scrutiny, but I would be afraid of how tabloid and other journalists might cook sensational and unhealthy dinners from selected cases. Perhaps some impartial research into case types and child custody judgements might put the general public at ease, and thwart sensational journalism?

But I really must say "Aw gee..." when you bring in those old bogeymen with the remark about judges: "Some are freemasons and some are Opus Dei." Who knows, but some of them might have attended meetings of the Trilateral Commission and might be members of the Illuminati and might even have six toenails instead of the normal five! But this tack of secret society speculation only leads away from the issues that concern many separated and divorced parents. Research, not witch hunting of judges, is what will throw light on the operation of these courts.

author by surviverpublication date Wed Nov 07, 2007 15:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If a woman says it, it is true! The implication being that while all men are brutes all women never lie."

Standing in the family court with my limbs in plaster a result of another domestic assault, i sought a barring order from the female judge for my protection and that of our child.The lease to the flat we occupied was in my name,i paid the rent, all our child's cloths , toys and equipment was there .The judge REFUSED to grant barring order .

author by Portiapublication date Wed Nov 07, 2007 16:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is so nice to see there are others still alive and kicking, despite being abused by partners and the family law system.

After 14 yrs of research in Ireland and UK, I have come to a conclusion.

The answer lies in following the money.!!!!!

The lawyers and judges will side with the abuser most of the time.

Man or Woman makes no difference.

That is just their way of divide and conquer all.

But why?? I hear you ask??

That is not justice is it.??

Of course not.

British law was never written to be about justice, and we use the British system still in Eire.

In the old British statute book it actually says-they can punish the innocent.

But you will not see it written anywhere and who is going to check out some old law books.??

The reason is that these elite- for the want of a word- love violence and all the wealth it creates for the system.

An innocent person will keep seeking justice and they know this- so they play on our emotions.

Of course, we think our lawyer cares about us and wants justice for us too.


The lawyer only wants the money.

The Judge is reduntant too if there are no cases in front of him or her, so why should they bring about justice and spoil the fun they are having lining their pockets.

Then when the children see the violent one rewarded- it sends the clear message that violence pays off nicely, thank you.

Anyone who thinks that any agent of the state cares one iota for them is fooling themselves.

They are all lining their pockets from the misery and ill health of its citizens.

Betters still we- tax payers are paying their salaries so they can continue.

It is like giving them a whip to whip us.

No, we dont see it as we are too busy working to pay taxes to notice what is going on.

What a laugh these people must be having looking down on us now.

Not for long though as truth always finds a way.

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