A investigation is under way after a man held around 60 people at gunpoint and robbed them at a Christian outreach centre in Dublin yesterday.

The incident happened at around midday at the Compassion Centre in Ballymun.

Gardaí say a masked man went into the building at the Ballymun Industrial Estate.

The congregation were forced to lie on the ground after being threatened with a sawn-off shotgun.

The gunman told people to empty their pockets and stole money, personal property and the keys to a Blue Fiat Panda, which he used to flee the scene.

Senior pastor John Eniola said it had been a "frightening" experience, but that he forgave the gunman and prayed for him.

He said: "He put a gun to one of the members' heads, gave him a bag and told him to collect the money and phones. He did that and then he fled.

"It was frightening but we all stayed calm and did not struggle," the pastor added.

Mr Eniola, who had been sitting at the front of the building, said: "He came in through the back door. He had a balaclava covering his face.

"He came in with a gun, a shotgun, and he was shouting 'everybody to the ground, bring out your money, your wallets and your phones.' He said 'I am not joking, if any of you move, I will shoot'.

"Thankfully nobody was hurt," the pastor said. 

"For a moment it was frightening because this man was carrying a gun. We have never seen anything like that before but we pray for him, we forgive him and we would like to see him in church.

"We knew it was a robbery because he was threatening and just asking for wallets and money. If it had been a terror attack it would have been different," he said.

The Compassion Centre is involved in evangelism, and also helps the homeless and those addicted to drugs.

No arrests have been made and gardaí at Ballymun have appealed for information.