Russell was elected chief of staff of the IRA in April 1938 and he put in motion the bombing campaign. He also established contact with Nazi Germany and and declared war on Britain. Under his leadship the IRA launched their bombing campaign in Britain and in February 1939 the Germans sent Oscar Pfaus as an agent to Ireland to establish direct contact with the IRA. Pfaus met with its inner circle which included Sean Russell and Jim O'Donovan, who said Pfaus made a good impression and they trusted him.
Sean Russell travelled to the United States in April 1939 and met with his Clann na Gael host Joseph McGarrity and Robert Monteith, who was director of Father Charles Coughlin's National Union of Social Justice. Coughlin was a controversial priest whose radio broadcasts were described as 'a variation of the Fascist agenda applied to American culture'. Indeed Woody Guthrie described Coughlin as having 'Hitler on the brain'. In America Russell made contact through McGarrity with a German agent and this led to arrangements for Russell to travel across the Atlantic to Genoa, where he arrived on 1 May, and then for a reception in Berlin, where he arrived four days later.
On 15 July 1940 Frank Ryan, an IRA man who had fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and had been captured by Franco's forces, was handed over to the Abwehr and taken to Germany.
In September 2003 the Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald spoke at a rally at the site of the Sean Russell statue. The rally was also addressed by Brian Keenan, who was then a member of the Provisional IRA Army Council.
However the statue has attracted a series of acts of vandalism. On 31 December 2004 the statue was damaged and decapitated but the NGA announced that it would be replaced in bronze to deter vandals. The new bronze statue was unveiled by the NGA on 28 June 2009 but it was vandalised again on 9 July 2009 with graffiti proclaiming Russell to have been a Nazi.
That may or may not have been the case but there are two things about Sean Russell which are absolutely certain. The first is hat he collaborated with the Nazis and was therefore a Nazi collaborator. The second is that he was an IRA terrorist who planned a campaign of terrorist bombings against targets in Great Britain.
According to a Channel 4 documentary, directed by Gerry Greg and broadcast in 1997, Sean Russell's quartermaster was Dominic Adams, an uncle of Gerry Adams.