The lawyer representing two drunken Irishmen who stole an American flag in Knoxville Tennessee has claimed their act was proof they loved the USA.

Dubliners John Patrick Kerrigan and James Mulroy were found guilty of vandalism and misdemeanour theft after they stole the flag last January and took photos of themselves wrapped in it, reports Knox News.

Their lawyer claimed to a court in Knoxville that the act was proof positive of their love for America – and they have the pictures to prove it.

The pair jumped from a taxi last January and stole the flag from the TVA building in downtown Knoxville before draping themselves in it and taking the photographs.

Kerrigan, 33, and Mulroy, 28, cut the flagpole rope at the TVA building off Summit Hill Drive to bring the flag down and then ran off with it into the Crowne Plaza hotel where they were staying.

The Dublin duo confessed to the theft in Knox County General Sessions Court ,but their attorney Tommy Hindman insisted it was an act of American patriotism, admittedly a drunken one.

As evidence to back-up his theory, he cited a cell phone picture showing one of the two passed out with the flag wrapped around his body.

“That’s how much they loved America,” Hindman jokingly told the court.

Hindman revealed that Kerrigan and Mulroy have agreed to pay TVA $2,200 to replace the flag. If they pay that amount along with court costs and behave themselves for the next year, the charges will be dropped as part of a plea deal.

The attorney also dismissed reports that the pair had stolen the flag at the behest of actor Colin Farrell who was in town at the time of their act.

“I asked them if they knew Colin Farrell,” he said. “They said, ‘Who?’"

Two drunken Irishmen who stole an American flag in Knoxville Tennessee have claimed the act was proof they loved the USA.