Nine people, including Minister Dick Roche, have been held at gunpoint during an armed robbery at a Co Wicklow hotel.

Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche was one of two patrons exiting the Marriott hotel in Druids Glen when they were confronted by three masked men, one of whom was armed with a sawn-off shotgun.

The minister has said said he was used as a 'human shield' by the armed gang who carried out a robbery.

He also described his experience as 'fairly threatening' and 'not pleasant'.

He said he did not think the raiders recognised him.

The three men forced Mr Roche and his driver back towards the reception area where they demanded money from staff at the desk.

They then forced their captives at gunpoint to another room where they took more money.

The raiders then forced a total of nine people, seven of whom were staff members, down two flights of stairs into a basement where a further quantity of money was stolen.

The gang then locked the nine people, three men and six women, into the store room and made their escape with around €20,000.

No shots were fired during the incident.

Nobody was injured but all are said to be quite shaken

Gardaí have now mounted a major search operation for the gang.

It is believed they made their escape in a dark-coloured, possibly black, Volvo.