Significant concern has been expressed at the pace of reform of the Defence Forces.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Sinn Féin Deputy Matt Carty said he was worried about the speed of reform, while Independent TD Cathal Berry said the process appeared to be moving at "the pace of a snail".

Committee chair Charlie Flanagan said he shared the "sense of frustration" given the Defence Forces have long been "chronically underfunded", staff morale is at "the lowest ebb in the history of the State" and members are being obliged to use "poor equipment".

He made the comments to Julie Sinnamon, chair of the Implementation Oversight Group (IOG), which is charged with overseeing reform laid out in the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces last year.

Deputy Flanagan said his concern was not directed at the IOG, but reflected the committee view of the absolute need to ensure the transformation of the Defence Forces was a success and improved morale.

Ms Sinnamon replied that she "fully understood" the frustration of the committee, but added she was of the view that Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin was "totally committed" to reform and implementing the commission's 130 recommendations.

Deputy Berry said the promised implementation plan was the "last chance saloon for the Defence Forces" given the head count was continuing to drop over the past 15 months since the commission reported and was now down 25% in the last ten years.

He said he acknowledged that some progress had been made for staff with less than three years service, the purchase of Naval Service vessels and the commitment to purchase a long-range military aircraft.

But he added that not having something like primary radar coverage had to be resolved swiftly, along with ongoing issues over pay and allowances.

Ms Sinnamon said that 35 of 38 actions identified as initial priorities had been fully implemented and finalising the implementation plan was "at an advanced stage" and should be concluded before the end of next month.