Summer 1984 ended too quickly. May crashed into June as the 'mock' became the Leaving. Fourteen years of school were over. July flew: a blur of discos at the Cliff Castle Hotel, dancing to Dexy's 'Come on Eileen', and evenings at the Pierrot Club scrounging coins to play PacMan. Afternoons zipped by, hanging around our road, ogling Spanish students and rehashing gags from the Young Ones. Disguising dread with stupid banter as August, and results day, sprinted in.

Leaving Cert summer is a type of No Man's Land between childhood and adulthood. I didn't want mine to end. Results day terrified me: it meant either college or the shame of a repeat year. For many it meant a ticket to England or America. We were the last generation of Irish to emigrate.

Two other fortysomethings who were in the news last week also waited on exam results in 1984. One was from Glenageary, the other from Castlebar. Both went on to UCD. Both are politicians. Both are shameless opportunists.

The former made headlines during the Thomas Cook sit-in on Grafton Street. On Tuesday I watched the 'protestors' singing 'Ireland's Call' and behaving as if they were on some kind of a patriotic mission. I cringed. They were deluding themselves. They weren't heroes. They had been offered a good redundancy package and greedily wanted more.

The appearance of left-wing campaigner Richard Boyd Barrett added to my irritation. He's respected for his work in Dun Laoghaire, but what was he getting involved in this for? This was a circus. His presence, however, prompted me to look closer at the story and my attitude changed.

Thomas Cook's profits were up 35% last year and its CEO received a 34% pay rise and a €7m bonus. It's making buckets of money. When the workers tried to negotiate for more, management moved to close the office ahead of schedule. They were being 'railroaded'. The employees had no right to defy a court order ordering them to leave, but their action was understandable.

The country can't afford industrial mayhem, but workers can't be expected to just roll over either. Sacrifices must be made, but people's rights must also be protected. Ireland has already been run into the ground by ruthless profiteers. Profiteers who are constantly in the sights of arch opportunist, Boyd Barrett.

While his sincerity isn't in doubt, the Glenageary man knows the value of a picture of him being arrested with the protesters. It helps further his socialist agenda. Still, even if you don't agree with his beliefs, you can't deny he's in politics for the right reasons.

Now look west. Another opportunist is making headlines. Unlike Boyd Barrett though, Beverley Flynn only ever makes headlines for the wrong reasons. The latest is that she claimed almost €30k in expenses for work done by a media adviser.

Beverley has always been good with money. After her failed libel action against RTé she dragged her heels over the €3m costs and got away with paying only half. Bertie Ahern later declared she would be a minister some day. Possibly minister for finance given her dexterity with taxpayers' money.

Earlier this year, we learned she was still claiming €41k of expenses as an independent TD. Despite public revulsion, Beverley keeps soldiering on.

No wonder she needs a media adviser. Here's a piece of media advice, Beverley: wipe that smirk off your face. You look like you're laughing at us. Your bloated self-importance is stomach-churning.

Flynn, and others like her, proves Boyd Barrett's case that Ireland needs a new radicalism to shake up the establishment. I obviously don't mean turning the country into a socialist state, but to adjust the balance. To stop a small part of the population screwing the rest. You know, like in a R.E.P.U.B.L.I.C.

Those of us who did our Leaving in the '80s claimed to have built a new Ireland. What we actually built was a New Babylon, founded on greed and toppled by our towering self belief. We wanted more, more, more and so overstretched to buy overpriced houses. Both parents then had to work to pay the bills. This created a new breed of latch-key kids, flush with guilt-money from their absentee parents. They became designer accessories for mum and dad: the more spoiled your child, the more affluent you looked.

So we have a generation of cosseted kids staring out over No Man's Land as the hours tick down to results day. I feel sorry for them. For all their cockiness they're more vulnerable than we were. We were prepared for the worst. They've only ever tasted success and aren't prepared for failure. Unlike us, they have no escape route to England or America.

What's more, we've loaded them with another responsibility: the task of rebuilding this country over the coming decades. They can start by looking at two individuals who awaited exam results 25 years ago this week. Boyd Barrett and Flynn. Who is giving more to society? Who has made the most of their potential? Our school-leavers' answer to this will be the key to Ireland's emergence as a just society.

And kids, if you ever need a media adviser, I know just the man for the job.

And I'll do you a good deal …