THE Department of Finance feared queues of worried bank depositors would form outside its doors if it nationalised a bank at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The department was concerned that the chaos would be worsened by depositors turning up on its doorstep demanding access to their money, according to a contingency document it drew up in September 2008 as it prepared legislation to nationalise one of the country's banks.

The document was one of more than 50 published last week by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about the run-up to the introduction of the government deposit guarantee.

"Walk-in customers should be discouraged from coming into the department," says the document, written on the weekend of 13 September. "It is essential that a queue does not form outside the department."

The contingency plan to nationalise one of the country's banks was called project "Xfi". The department was concerned that seizing control of a bank would spread fears about the rest of the banking system. The department wanted to direct customers elsewhere to deal with their concerns about their deposits.

Details of the warnings come as new figures from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) show deposits are still flooding into state savings schemes even though all bank deposits are guaranteed. According to the NTMA there was a record net inflow of deposits into various schemes of €1.7bn in 2009, bringing the total amount of savings to €9.28bn, equivalent to almost twice the amount of deposits held by Irish Nationwide Building Society.

A net €808m was lodged in three-year 'Savings Bonds' and €570m in five-and-a-half year 'Savings Certificates'. The Prize Bond Company sucked in €269m, while the Post Office Savings Bank added a net €91m to bring its deposits to €1.89bn.

The NTMA said the amount of deposits being gathered by the schemes was the highest in its near-20 years of existence.

The documents published by the PAC show the department of finance spent several months considering whether a major lender would have to be taken into public ownership and the plan was highly advanced. In addition to plans to assuage customers, it had drawn up a list of candidates to take over as chairman of the institution and was preparing to brief former EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy and other Irish officials in major international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund, on why nationalisation was necessary.

Though no institution was mentioned in the document, it is thought the plans referred to Irish Nationwide.