THE last remaining residents of the Ballymun flats have said they are living in terror of anti-social behaviour after the main entrance to the nearly-deserted complex was badly damaged by vandals.
Residents of the Joseph Plunkett Tower had been protected from anti-social elements by a large steel door at the front of the building.
A key fob system was used to open the door, but the reader on it was destroyed some time on Saturday.
It means that if the heavy steel door slams shut, it is almost impossible to reopen from the outside, leaving the remaining residents locked out of their homes.
The entrance now has to be left wide open, allowing gangs of thugs to get into the building where they drink, take drugs and light fires.
Lisa Matthews (45) lives on the third floor of the tower with her 22-year-old daughter Leanne and three-year-old granddaughter Mia.
She said: "I got home from work at around 7.30pm on Monday and the door was shut. It's on magnets and couldn't be opened.
"Luckily, another woman was in the building at the time and she came down and opened the door, otherwise I would have been locked out for goodness knows how long.
"At night-time I feel like I've become a prisoner in my own home.
"I have a dog that I'm scared to take out for a walk because I don't want to be confronted by these youths, because they know that I have to call the guards."
The door was re-opened on Monday after workmen were called in.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said arrangements were being made to have the door repaired.
Only two families who are yet to be re-housed remain in the building.
Ms Matthews said that over the weekend, gangs of youths had entered the tower block and lit fires.
The orphanage worker, who has accepted that the building needs to be torn down, previously spoke of how one hallway in the building was used as a toilet by gangs of youths and frequently stunk of faeces and urine.
Last December, she told the Herald how the council has been unable to secure a reasonable two-bedroom house for her.
At the time, a spokesperson for the council said that offers had been made to the remaining occupants.
"When the final residents are relocated to alternative accommodation, the demolition of the tower will begin," she added.
"I thought at the time we'd be out in a couple of weeks, but we're still here," Ms Matthews said.
Meanwhile, Bernie Rehill, who lives in another flat in the Joseph Plunkett Tower, said she and Ms Matthews are enduring a "living hell" with being the last two residents in the tower.
"These thugs are only in their teens but there's a gang of around 20 of them and they're throwing rocks down the lifts and lighting fires in the hallways," she said 69-year-old Ms Rehill.
"They even threw a knife at me. They have me terrified. I'm afraid to go out and leave Lisa alone in her flat.
"We're waiting for our new accommodation to be finished, but we want to get out of here now.
"These thugs are breaking into the vacant flats and having parties in them. And there's an older crowd there at the weekend.
"It was absolute hell last week when the younger ones were on their mid-term breaks.
"I'm afraid to set foot outside the door."
Ms Rehill has been living in the Ballymun flats for 39 years.