Catherine Mulvihill climbs the stairs to her flat on the fifth floor of Balbutcher Lane flats in Ballymun

Residents of the Ballymun flats in Dublin say they are effectively stranded in their homes as just nine of the 27 lifts there are in working order.

A strike by the electricians' union, the TEEU, has left the residents without access to the lifts for over five months.

Fibromyalgia sufferer Catherine Mulvihill (51) said the residents felt stranded. "For the past 12 months we have only had lifts for five weeks that are working. I live on the fifth floor, and I suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis and diabetes as well as having a slipped disc. So when I go to get my groceries every morning, I am relying on someone's generosity to help me down and to get back up to the fifth floor. It is crazy.

"Because of the fibromyalgia my muscles seize up when I get to a certain point on the stairs and I usually have to sit down and take a break a few times."

Mulvihill said her husband had been house-bound for over six months because of the issues with repairing the lifts. "He is quite unwell and has not been out since Christmas as he cannot handle the stairs. I have to do everything for him right down to things like collecting his pension," she said.

Another woman, who visits the complex to see her fiancé, said the situation had gone on too long. "I only come in and out, but I see older men and women struggling to get up the stairs and my heart goes out to them."

Attempts to speak with other residents were unfruitful as, according to a local caretaker, they were "all too ill to come out to talk".

Father Peter McVerry, who lives in the flats, is calling for the problem to be resolved immediately. "The sooner those lifts are sorted the better. It is difficult for us all at the moment. The lift in my block has been out for five months. The fact that it will take six months for the army to fix it is also difficult to get around.

"Over one third of these blocks are still occupied and some people who have disabilities are finding themselves trapped in their homes because of this problem. When I'm walking up the flights myself I find I have to take a few stops to catch my breath so you can imagine what it is like for people who have severe disabilities," he said.

The High Court last week heard that just nine of the 27 lifts in the flats were working despite the daily intervention of the army. As army officials are not experienced lift engineers, the projected time of repair now stands at a minimum of six months. The electricians union had been picketing since last February, while Dublin City Council has made an application to the High Court to have the picket made illegal.

A judgment on the matter is expected early next month.