The Irish Nurses Organisation has unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste and Minister for Health, Mary Harney at their annual conference in Cavan.

In a 50-minute debate, nurses accused the Tánaiste of failing the patients and nurses working in the healthcare system. Ms Harney was also accused of promoting private healthcare.

The INO General Secretary, Liam Doran, urged the minister to talk to the nurses rather than at them.

The motion comes following the minister's rejection of the nurses' demands for increased pay and shorter working hours.

It highlights what the INO says is the failure of her ten-point plan to ease overcrowding in the country's accident and emergency units.

The motion also highlights what the INO claims is Ms Harney's negative and antagonistic attitude towards nurses and what it sees as a lack of clarity in how to address the problems facing the health service.

The minister will not be at the conference this year due to prior commitments, but has said the Government cannot meet the pay demands - one of the most important issues for the INO.

At last year's INO conference, Ms Harney received a cool reception from delegates.

When the Tánaiste became the Minister for Health, her appointment was welcomed by among others, the INO. Since then, their relationship has grown increasingly strained.