'Next Stop' visits Athlone in County Westmeath to find out about young people's attitudes to life today.

With a catchment area of 90,000 people, like most towns in Ireland, employment is an important issue in Athlone and The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has attracted industry and manufacturing to the area.

The opinions of the young people in the midland town give an insight into their generation and how they react to a rapidly changing society where the pressure of ideas is coming at them from all sides. As in other Irish towns, young people in Athlone are more likely to question authority and all that is being handed down from the older generation, but their opinions are questioning rather than aggressive and arrogant.

One young woman found her attitudes to authority were not tolerated within the education system and as a result she had a hard time at school. When her time to leave secondary school came,

It wasn’t a major stepping stone getting out of school, it was just a point of view that I was leaving something that was to me disgusting.

Another teenager says

I think a lot different than I did think, authority to me now is not a thing up on a pedestal like it used to be.

Religion now is a more personal choice than it was for the older generation, and many young people follow their own beliefs rather than allowing religion to rule their lives. Similarly with marriage, unlike previous generations the young people of Athlone are in no hurry to get married.

I don’t think anybody is capable of marriage, until they’ve seen an awful bit of life first, and lived with a few people.

As for politics, one man says

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to me they’re all the one party because I think politicians on the whole are very insincere anyway.

‘Next Stop’ was a weekly programme from and about the provinces highlighting items of general interest of concern. Programmes included a viewers’ service with exchange of ideas as a way of comment and reaction.

This episode of ‘Next Stop’ was broadcast on 15 December 1976. The reporter is John O’Donoghue.