A new campaign has been launched to encourage pub owners to join a legal action against insurance companies that are refusing to pay out on business interruption cover claims made as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those behind "Save Irish Pubs" claim they have been let down by the insurance sector.

"There will be no costs or future penalties for publicans and those that join us will be offered the best legal advice and a chance to have their policies interpreted and determined, as part of a number of test cases we propose taking in the Commercial Court," said Brian Winters, a solicitor and publican who is leading the campaign.

"We've put a team of experts together to directly assist this beleaguered sector."

"It is our intention to take the fight to the insurance companies who we believe have failed in their duty to assess publicans' claims in a fair and equitable manner."

Mr Winters, who owns Charlie's Bar in Loughrea, says even if publicans have been told they are not eligible to make a claim, that should not stop them sending their documents to the campaign's legal experts for review.

He claims there have been developments in how policies are interpreted since the Covid-19 pandemic began and many publicans don't know that they may have valid claims or feel they don't have the resources to challenge their insurer.

"Our legal team will review the policy and if there is the basis for a test case, we will manage the process on your behalf through the Save Irish Pubs initiative," he said.

Tom O'Brien, who owns the Ferryman Pub in Dublin, said the initiative was a potential lifeline for the beleaguered industry. 

"It is not going to cost a euro, and let us see where we all get to on this journey," he said.

A new website, saveirishpubs.ie, has been set up to provide information and to enable those interested in joining the campaign to sign up.

The Commercial Court is currently considering cases taken by four pubs against insurer FBD Insurance over its refusal to pay out under their business interruption policies.