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The ship's sinking

Sir -- In the end small business and its workers have slowly disappeared, driven down by ever-increasing taxes to pay for ever-increasing national debt.

Some of them who remain have become plot farmers like the smallholders of yore, trying to maintain self-sufficiency against the ever increasing threat of robbery and violence.

Marauding gangs roam the deserted streets. Government and law enforcement is almost non-existent.

The rich -- ex-bankers and recipients of giant government pensions -- live in fortified mansions, clustered together near airports, secured by private armies.

Amongst each other they have their own economic system of sorts, reinforcing a new two-tier society.

On the quayside of Waterford port, the army of the new "Mid-European Alliance" is disembarking.

From his ship Captain Wolfgang has seen the unkempt hedgerows and neglected fields and he wonders whatever happened to these people whose men built England's motorways.

He thinks that perhaps they were not able to rule themselves, never fully completing their apprenticeship -- so to speak -- after colonisation.

He remarks to Pierre, his second-in-command, that he cannot help comparing their venture with the Norman conquest.

He silently questions the methods used for a European Union in preceding years.

"Maybe they were sold down the Swanee or should we say the Rhine," says Wolfgang.

"Well at least now," says Pierre, "we can grow ample food to feed our cities."

As a lonely piper plays in the distance, they raise a glass in agreement.

"Salut."

Walter Naughton,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare

Sunday Independent