In regards to religion, Catholics made up the majority in Ireland whilst in Ulster, the religion of the majority, unlike most towns outside Ulster, was Presbyterian. However, the Presbyterian population had been split into liberals led by the Reverend Henry Montgomery and the fundamentalists led by the Reverend Henry Cooke. The liberal strand was much more lenient towards the Catholics than the fundamentalists. Despite this, the population had been increasing at an alarming rate; in 1800 Belfast's population was around 20,000, by 1851 it was 100,000, then 127,000 by 1861. This resulted in an increase in competition for jobs due to more and more Catholics and Protestants entering Ulster, this alone caused sectarian clashes among Catholics and Protestants and was notably seen on Shakill and Fools road. Both parties even sought to create religious campaigns with the intention of influencing the new migrant workers. This downside to this was that it made sectarian clashes more frequent and violent. The Catholics in Ulster tied itself with the Catholic south of Ireland, which amounted to a greater division between Ulster and the rest of Ireland. .
For economy, Ulster's economic structure developed and prospered compared to that of the rest of Ireland. The former was predominantly industrial, whilst the latter, especially within the western regions, remained agricultural. Originally, it was the textile industry which produced cotton in the eighteenth centuries, then developed to the spinning of linen yarn the 1830's then linen weaving in the 1850's. Belfast had 29 spinning mills and was first becoming the world's leading linen producer. The triumph of the factory system implied deindustrialization in outer Ulster which was essentially a law-cost labor reservation as far as textile production was concerned. There were also developments in the ship building industry, especially with the Harland and Wolff dockyards.