The Taoiseach has urged world leaders to pursue a multilateral approach to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, saying "even the strongest of us cannot succeed alone".

Addressing a virtual meeting of the UN General Assembly, Micheál Martin said the pandemic has taken an immense toll on "our countries, our citizens, our economies and indeed our entire way of life".

He said it has imposed a particular burden on those least able to bear it: Countries with weak healthcare systems, and civilian populations suffering from insecurity, displacement, conflict and poverty.

"The pandemic has also revealed the best of humanity - the heroic efforts of our front-line workers to provide care and essential services to those directly affected, the remarkable social cohesion, solidarity and civic responsibility of people throughout the world through many months of restrictions and disruptions to lives and livelihoods."

In his first major address on foreign policy and his first speech on an international stage since becoming Taoiseach, he outlined Ireland's priorities when it begins its two-year term on the UN Security Council in January.

The General Assembly this year was taking place remotely, with heads of state and governments of 196 countries delivering their national statements in pre-recorded videos.

The Taoiseach said: "This year's United Nations General Assembly is meeting in the shadow of Covid-19.

"The virtual format reminds us all of the need to keep our distance and limit our contacts - practices which are so simple but which have the power to help us arrest this deadly virus.

"This pandemic has impacted every community in every country, and indeed our entire way of life.

"It has taken its toll on society, particularly those who have lost loved ones, or who have contracted the virus themselves and are suffering from its lasting after effects.

"However, Covid-19 has also brought out an incredible motivation for people to work together to combat this fatal virus.  

"The pandemic reminds us that multilateral responses to global challenges remain essential. In an interconnected and interdependent world, even the strongest cannot succeed alone.

"In less than four months' time, Ireland will to take up a seat on the UN Security Council.

"We join the Council with firm principles and clear priorities - building peace, strengthening prevention, and ensuring accountability. These are at the heart of the Council's mandate.

"Ireland has a strong and proud record of UN peacekeeping and I am confident that we will be to the fore in promoting the core values of building and maintaining international peace and security."

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney released a short video on Twitter ahead of the General Assembly meeting.

He said the importance of nations working together has never been more apparent.

"Ireland will take a seat on the UN Security Council on 1 January. We have always engaged at the heart of the UN," said the Minister.

"With multilaterism under pressure, we will do our part in engaging openly, bridging divisions and standing up for peace."